Now you know! Some FunFacts about Nolan Bushnell, inventor, gamer, and cheese-lover.
This week marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of Atari. (Yep: "Pong" is officially approaching middle age.) Should you choose to celebrate the occasion by reading up on the company and its joysticktastic products, I highly recommend a trip to the Internet's Atari Museum. Which is just as nerdy -- and as awesome -- as it sounds.
I'd also recommend, however, a trip to another Internet archive: the Wikipedia page of Atari's founder, Nolan Bushnell.
I am 20 percent kidding here, but 80 percent entirely serious: The page is a treasure trove of tech-geek inspiration, as told through the biography of a pipe-smoking, game-playing entrepreneur. Bushnell's life and his many creations are a reminder of the passion -- and the playfulness -- that often accompany the biggest technological innovations. Bushnell wasn't necessarily trying to invent the Next Big Thing; he was trying to build the next entertaining thing. He was trying to make meaning and money, sure; but he was also trying to have fun.
With that in mind, some FunFacts about Bushnell:
- Bushnell and his Atari co-founder, Ted Dabney, wanted to name the company "Syzygy"; they couldn't do so, however, because that name was in use by a candle company(!), a roofing company(!!), and a Mendocino hippie commune(!!!).
- Atari is named for a check-like position in the board game "Go."
- A distribution agreement with Sears first help the home version of Atari's "Pong" gain popularity in the '70s.
- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak -- both of whom had previously been involved in the development of the Atari arcade game Breakout -- created the first Macintosh using parts borrowed from Atari.
- Wozniak and Jobs offered the Macintosh design to Bushnell, but Bushnell declined it, deciding to focus on arcade and console games.
- Atari was one of the first companies to institute the jeans-wearing, beer-drinking culture that is the norm in Silicon Valley today. Bushnell inspired Jobs and Wozniak to instill a similar culture at Apple.
- Bushnell once purchased a mansion formerly owned by coffee magnate James Folger.
- Bushnell and his wife Nancy have eight children.
- Leonardo diCaprio is set to play Bushnell in a movie.