Nolan Bushnell, an engineering student at the University of Utah in the mid-1960s, played Spacewar in his school’s computer lab, and it left a lasting impression. After graduating, he moved to Silicon Valley and in just a few short years figured out how to bring computer games to the masses with Pong. It was a massive hit, and Bushnell, still in his twenties, suddenly found himself in charge of what was arguably the most important company ever to rocket out of the Valley.
Bushnell not only single-handedly created an industry around a new American art form — video games—he also wrote what has become the quintessential Silicon Valley script. The story goes like this: Young kid with radical idea hacks together something cool, builds a wild freewheeling company around it, and becomes rich and famous in the process.
When I was a kid, everyone wanted an Atari system.