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Nolan Bushnell

Nolan Bushnell (born February 5, 1943) is the founder of both the now-defunct Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese Pizza-Time Theaters and is considered to be the father of the video game industry.

Bushnell graduated from the University of Utah electrical engineering program in 1968. During his time there in the 1960s, Bushnell was one of many computer science students that played the now famous Spacewar game on DEC mainframe computers. In 1971, Bushnell and colleague Ted Dabney created the Spacewar clone Computer Space in a self-contained cabinet; it was manufactured and distributed by Nutting Associates. Computer Space proved to be too far ahead of its time and was a commercial failure. Nonetheless, Bushnell was determined to make a video game that could be played by anyone. In 1972, he and Dabney formed Atari. After developing the easier to play Pong videogame, Bushnell had it installed at a tavern in Sunnyvale, California called Andy Capp's. Pong proved to be popular but imitators helped keep Atari from dominating the fledging coin-operated videogame market.

In 1974, Bushnell and Atari decided to develop a home version of Pong. By 1975, Pong became one of the hottest Christmas gifts, largely due to a distribution agreement with Sears[?]. In 1977, the Atari 2600 was introduced which helped to revolutionize home videogaming and the modern video game console industry was born. Soon, Warner Communications[?] (now AOL Time-Warner) bought Atari, and Bushnell later left the company he co-founded in 1978. (Note: The Atari label is now owned by Infogrames[?].)

Bushnell was not done in his quest to innovate entertainment. While still at Atari in 1977, he purchased Pizza Time Theaters, a place where kids could go and eat pizza and play video games while they waited for their orders to be ready. The Pizza Time Theaters also had animatronic animals that played music as entertainment. In 1984, Bushnell resigned from Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theaters (now named after its famous mouse mascot) as it entered bankruptcy. Things worked out for Chuck E. Cheese ( http://www.chuckecheese.com ) and it survives today as a successful entertainment and restaurant chain. Overall, Bushnell has started over 20 companies and has been inducted into the "Video Game Hall of Fame" and the Consumer Electronics Association "Hall of Fame."

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