Nolan Bushnell

Nolan Bushnell


February 5, 1943

Inducted in the Class of 2000

Notable accomplishments:

  • Co-founded (with Ted Dabney) Syzygy, which manufactured the first dedicated video arcade game, Computer Space (1969)
  • Co-founded (with Ted Dabney) Atari (1972)
  • Authorized development of PONG arcade game by Al Alcorn (1972)
  • Hired Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs to work on “Breakout” ()
  • Brought home console version of PONG to market (1975)
  • Founded first Pizza Time Theatre animatronic arcade / restaurant (later to be rebranded Chuck E. Cheese) (1977)

“The rise of Nintendo and the Japanization of the game business that occurred in the late 1980s created perhaps the most extensive import of foreign culture that has happened in America other than through immigration.” (Communications of the ACM, August 1996)

“You’d go to these conferences, and they’re called multimedia conferences. And they’d say, ‘What’s the killer app?’ And I’d say: ‘Guys, the killer app for multimedia is games …’ And then they’d say: ‘But what’s really going to be important?’ … People would look at you like you like you had three heads.” (“Very Important Game People in the History of Computer and Video Games,” master’s thesis by Petri Mikael Kuittinen)

“We always hired for intensity because our products were bizarre enough, different enough, that we could train almost everything else. Our markets were different, our technology was different, our manufacturing processes – nobody turned inventory as fast as we did.” (Startup Grind, June 29, 2013)

Suggested reading:
“Zap!: The Rise and Fall of Atari” by Scott Cohen (1984)

“Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent” by Nolan Bushnell (2013)

“The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” by Walter Isaacson (2014)

Learn more:
Nolan Bushnell’s website