When it was founded in 1972, Atari was the symbol of arcade gaming and personal computers. Even today, many have fond memories of hurrying home after school to play games. Today, we don’t take this as anything special, but then – it was one of the best times you could have.
Sadly, one of the founders, Ted Dabney (far left on the picture above) passed away this weekend leaving behind his and Nolan Bushnell’s legacy and the significance Atari has on the gaming industry. The news was announced by Leonard Herman, a video game historian and good friend of Dabney’s.
“I just learned that my good friend, Ted Dabney, the co-founder of Atari, passed away at the age of 81. RIP dear friend. Your legacy will live on a long time!” Herman posted on his Facebook page.
Ted Dabney created a unique opportunity for the gaming industry to flourish and certainly become as influential and commercial as it is today. He created the Computer Space game which was a hit with the players and kept Atari alive until other games came out, like Pong and Asteroids.
“We were good friends and Ted had a lot of analogue computer skills I didn’t have,” Nolan Bushnell said for the Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan. “I was a digital guy. I knew how to deal with bits and bytes and logic and things like that and Ted really understood a lot more about how to interface with a consumer television set and power supplies and things like that.”
After Computer Space came out, the duo founded Atari Incorporated, only for Dabney to leave it after a year because he didn’t like running a large business. Later, in an interview for Computer History Museum in 2012, Dabney stated: “There’s stories that came around after that. But that was the end of me with it, with Atari. ‘Cause it was just — well, actually Nolan had told me that if I didn’t sell out he would transfer all the assets to another corporation and leave me with nothing anyway. So, you know, might as well sell out.”
However, Bushnell and Dabney still worked together after that on the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. They were also about to meet this summer when Dabney passed away. He had indebted the gaming industry greatly and turned many childhoods into wonderful adventures. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.