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Classic Games (Games) Games

Atari Co-Founder Ted Dabney Dies at Age 81 (eurogamer.net) 43

An anonymous reader quotes Eurogamer: Atari co-founder Ted Dabney has died, according to a close friend. Historian Leonard Herman, who told Dabney's story in an article for Edge magazine published in 2009, announced Dabney's death in a post on Facebook... Dabney, who was born in San Francisco in 1937, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late 2017, and, according to friends, decided against treatment after being told he had eight months to live.

In 1971 Dabney co-founded Atari predecessor Syzygy with Nolan Bushnell and developed Computer Space, the world's first commercially available arcade video game. In 1972 the pair co-founded Atari, and Computer Space was used for the basis of Pong, the video game that made the company its early-days millions. Dabney later left the company after a falling out with Bushnell.

"Nolan was not being the kind of person that I enjoyed being around any more..." Dabney remembered in a 2012 interview with the Computer History Museum. He added with a laugh that "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."

After the falling out Dabney still helped Bushnell launch Pizza Time Theater (the predecessor of Chuck E. Cheese's), later working at major tech companies like Raytheon, Fujitsu, and Teledyne, before finally buying a grocery store in California's Sierra mountains (where "my wife did all the work"). He eventually retired to northern Washington at the age of 69.

"Ted Dabney was an integral part of the early video game industry, and he literally assembled some of the hardware from which this industry was built with his own two hands," remembers Kotaku, adding "Not many people can lay claim to that kind of legacy."

Share your own favorite memories of Atari and Ted Dabney in the comments.
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Atari Co-Founder Ted Dabney Dies at Age 81

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  • RIP, dude.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Remember disassembling the familyâ(TM)s Pong game determined to learn how it worked. Pure horror ($200!) and fascination (âoewhat are these black chipsâ?).

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Sunday May 27, 2018 @12:25AM (#56681304)
    We now have daily obituaries. Thanks slashdot, can now cancel my remaining magazines subscriptions.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If it weren't for folks like Dabney or Jobs, technology will still be buried behind some thick walls at the back-offices.

    They formed the bridges and bring forth technologies to the forefront of the societies.

    If not for video games I wouldn't have focused my curiosity in electronics / computers, and I am sure I am not the only beneficiary.

    Thank you, Mr. Dabney, and all other tech pioneers, for your great works !!

  • "Uwaga, wlaczamy faze". Sorry for a foreign language only reference on an English-speaking site, but this just has to be said. :p

  • I remember it well, if you beat the saucers you got extra time and the graphics reversed colors. A very 70's "futuristic" cabinet and simple graphics, but then all video games of that era relied more on game play than graphics; given the processor power available. I fed it far too many quarters, along with Pong and later Space Invaders. One interesting thing about some of the early games were programming glitches, such as a tabletop football game that, if your QB crossed the line of scrimmage and then ran
  • I think it is time to get rid of the Anonymous postings for a few months, maybe the trolls and racists will find greener pastures. Seriously, this place used to be good...hardly anyone swore and the comments were by-and-large insightful or at least funny.

    Maybe everyone here is too young to know who Ted Dabney was, or even what Atari was, but please have a shred of respect for a pioneer in the gaming industry.

    So now I'm doubly sad... one for Ted, one for Slashdot, my (formerly) favorite website.

    • by tjones ( 1282 )

      You mourn for a time that never existed. Trolls have always been with us, since before slashdot was slashdot.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Consider what is was lost with Ted, his memories of conversation with long passed people. I remember a chat with a fellow that remembered the first time a car made it to his town when he was a child. That would have had to have been weird, the period of change that it heralded, those memories long lost in death.

    • Slashdot has always had the "reply to every story and comment with racism" trolls, they are always modded down swiftly so that anyone viewing with a score of 2 or higher comment-threshold don't see them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My mother worked on the assembly line for the Atari 2600, one of the jobs she did while there was running the wave solder machine. One day there was a problem and she needed to clear the machine. Unfortunately there was also apparently a problem with the interlock switches and while her hand was in the machine a wave of solder (hence the name of the beast) came along and soldered the rings on her fingers together. Burned her fingers pretty good, too. Nothing to with Ted Dabney, though, since he was long

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