Nolan Bushnell

Nolan Bushnell

Bow down for Bushnell created the company…

Bushnell started as an electrical engineer, he was unremarkable in many ways. He first gleaned a market gap when he combined two related interests. the first was his experience of playing the legendary Space War on the DEC. The second an interest in the buisness of midway arcades (in which he worked as a manager during summers away from university) who operated a pay-per-play scheme on skill and luck based machines.

in 1970 Bushnell designed a game called Computer Space, which infact was a more complicated clone of the popular Space War. He sold the idea to Nutting associates (manufacturers of coin-ops of the time) who inturn employed him as the cheif engineer for the project.
All of Bushnells friends wanted to play the game some even pitching tents in his backyard just to get the chance, but sadly the general public did not. Few outside of bushnells group of friends knew the game and less still liked it.

Bushnell came to the conclusion that the best games are those that are easy to learn but difficult to master and set about creating a new product.

Bushnell suggested the idea of a simpler game to his employers and they liked the idea. Bushnell asked for a 3rd share of the company as the electronic coin operated machine was his concept. Nuttall offerd 5%, and Bushnell walked.

Bushnell and his old partner Dabner went about setting their own company, Syzygy - the term for an alignment of three planets - but this name was inconveniently being used by a roofing company! So Bushnell mused longer and eventually settled on the name Atari - the term from the game Go which is the equivolent to calling check in chess.

The company began by hireing Al Alcorn an electronic engineer. Bushnell asked him to develop a ping-pong game - originally Bushnell wanted a racing game, but felt it was outside the capabilities of Alcorn to create at that time. A little while later Pong was sitting in the couner of a small bar in Grass Valley, California. The game was so successful in the bar that the bar owner called Atari to repair their apparnetly damaged machine. When they arrived it was soon clear that the problem was a full to brim cash box!

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