Atari’s Impact on Silicon Valley: 1972-84

Thu, Sep 8 2016, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm PDT              Atari's Impact on Silicon Valley: 1972-84 1

This event was organized by the IEEE Silicon Valley History Committee.

A full video of this event broken into segments is available here.  An overview of the event is included in the IEEE Spectrum Atari Alumni Talk About the Tall Tales They Told to Launch an Industry story.

In the 1970s, Silicon Valley was a very different place.  There were very few consumer companies.  Companies were started by PhDs and seasoned business people.  The value of a company was measured in the depth of its patent portfolio and its profits.  Venture money went to companies that solved difficult technology problems.

HP gave us the story of how a couple of young engineers started in a garage and built a major company over a 25-year period. Atari modified that story: a couple of young engineers started in a garage and built a major consumer company in less than 10 years, while having a blast doing it.  The Atari story was the basis for Apple and many of the major valley companies that followed.

Atari, founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney and Al Alcorn, created the earliest successful arcade and home video games, as well as early personal computers.  This event will include stories about products such as Pong and the Atari 2600, as well as the fun and turmoil surrounding this corner of Silicon Valley from 1972 to 1984.

Participants will be:
Nolan Bushnell: the legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur who co-founded Atari in 1972, was a founding father of the video game industry, and was named by Newsweek as one of “50 Men Who Changed America.”

Al Alcorn: Atari employee #3 who designed Pong (the first commercially successful coin-operated video game), built the first video game on a custom chip (home Pong), and led the development of the Atari VCS home video game machine which launched the cartridge video game industry.

Owen Rubin: early coin-op engineer who helped in the transition from all-TTL games to microprocessor-based games.

Steven Mayer: chief Atari architect for home video games and computer systems, and who was on the team that brought Activision back from bankruptcy to become the world’s largest independent game’s software company.

Brian Berg, IEEE Silicon Valley History Committee Chair, will moderate this panel.

Ken Pyle, Managing Editor of Viodi, is videographer for this event.

Location: KeyPoint Credit Union

2805 Bowers Ave. Santa Clara, CA 95051
View Map & Directions


Slides will not be available for the Main Presentation.

Main Presentation recording will not be available.