Nolan Bushnell is the founder of Atari Inc. and Chuck E. Cheese’s. The entrepreneur and engineer, is known as the ‘father of the video arcade industry. He has been inducted in the Consumer Electronics Association and the Video Game Hall of Fame.
Bushnell was born on 5th February 1943 in Clearfield, Utah. He attended the University Of Utah, College Of Engineering and received his electrical engineering degree in 1968. He was among the computer science students of that time who used to play the momentous game ‘Spacewar!’ on the mainframe computers. Since the beginning he was very keen on arcade games. He created Synzygy with colleague Ted Dabney. They launched a game called ‘Computer Space’ which proved to be commercially unsuccessful being too ahead of its time. However Bushnell remained determined. In 1972 he co-founded another company which they named Atari Inc. They rented an office in Sunnyvale, CA and continued to make sales. Later on Bushnell forced his partner, Ted, out of the company.
Atari released the game ‘Pong’ which was very successful along with other games launched. Two years after it was founded Atari Inc. expanded into the business of consumer electronics. In 1976 Nolan Bushnell decided to further grow the company but he knew that he would need a lot of capital. At that time going public was not a wise solution as the stock market was going pretty down. He approached some companies but got lucky when Warner Communications contacted Bushnell and bought Atari providing him with the required capital for expansion. Consequently, Atari launched its Video Computer System in 1977. The next year Bushnell had to leave the company after a clash with Warner over some company matters.
While Bushnell was still in Atari Inc. he bought ‘Pizza Time Theatre’ from Warner Communications which was actually his own creation, as a circulation channel for Atari; a place where children could eat pizza while playing their favorite games. He also founded ‘Catalyst Technologies, BrainRush and uWink. He is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of BrainRush which is a firm using technology of video games in educational software. In April 2010 it was announced that Bushnell was to re-join Atari Inc. as a Board of Director. He is also a member of the advisory board for Anti-AgingGames.com which focuses on the concentration and online memory of healthy people aged over 35.
Some other business ventures by Bushnell include the Timber Tech Computer Camp in Scotts Valley, CA (1981), buying ‘Videa’ in 1984 and renaming it ‘Sente Games’, endorsing the Commodore International CDTV in 1991, becoming member of the Board of Directors of Wave Systems Corp. in 1999 and joining BOD of AirPatrol Corporation and ME3 GLOBAL, LLC in 2008. He also appeared as a judge on ‘Made in USA’, a reality series that airs on the USA Network. Bushnell has founded more than 20 companies. In 2009 he received the Academy Fellowship by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for all his achievements in the video game industry.