Atari Headquarters and Nolan Bushnell, 1975

Atari HQ 1975

Atari HQ 1975-2

Atari Acorn 1975

Atari Keenan 1975

Atari Bushnell 1975

I found this gold at The Golden Age Arcade Historian, a new blog “dedicated to the history of arcade video games from the bronze and golden ages (1971 – 1984).” The photos are from one or more 1975 Play Meter magazines. Puppy Pong—you can see the edge of the poster to the right of the “intriguing portal”—refers to a cutesy table top version of Pong.

Speaking of Pong, Al Alcorn designed it. Not a bad accomplishment to put on your resume. The second guy is Joe Keenan (check the old school Pepsi can on his desk), who became president of Atari through a twist of irony. From Mental Floss:

Pinball distributors in the 1970s demanded exclusive deals for products before they would sign contracts. This would have impeded Nolan Bushnell’s ambitious plans to establish an entire industry. To get around the exclusivity requirements, Bushnell and his neighbor, Joe Keenan, secretly formed a second company that would “compete” against Atari, selling slightly modified Atari games to other distributors. They called it Kee Games. Ironically, Atari would later run into management trouble, while Kee Games continued operating smoothly and successfully. As a result, Joe Keenan was brought to Atari and promoted to president of the company.

Nolan Bushnell (third guy pictured) was, of course, the co-founder of and mastermind behind Atari. He looks kind of like a union boss in this photo. I feel like there’s a lit cigar perched on a 10-pound orange ashtray just off camera.

And here’s a February, 1973 Boston Herald article about Atari and the release of Pong.

Atari Boston Herald 1975

Keith Smith, who writes The Golden Age blog, notes that Syzygy (an awful name thankfully scrapped because a hippie candle company was using it) had incorporated under the name Atari in 1972. (The article incorrectly refers to Atari co-founder Ted Dabney as Fred Dabney.)

I love how Bushnell describes the business: “leisure applications of technology.” He hoped that people would “stop for a game… and become hooked into dropping coin after coin into the slot…” I’d say things worked out pretty well for the leisure applications, slotted to become an $82 billion industry by 2017.

10 Responses to “Atari Headquarters and Nolan Bushnell, 1975”


  1. 1 leftylimbo April 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Excellent post. All those peeps are mentioned in an awesome audio book biography of Steve Jobs, given to me by my co-worker for my long commutes to and from work. Did you know that Jobs walked right into Atari one day in the ’70s and just demanded a job right then and there, refusing to leave the lobby until he got one? lol.

  2. 2 2W2N April 30, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Thanks. That Jobs story is at the Mental Floss link… Hilarious.

  3. 3 leftylimbo April 30, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Here it is, if you’re interested: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Highly, highly recommend it.

    You know that Bushnell started Chuck E. Cheese, right? I always think about that every time we go to one. Remember his uWink restaurant chain? It’s too bad it went out business; the concept sounded so awesome and I almost had my birthday party at one but then it closed! =(

  4. 4 2W2N May 1, 2013 at 2:16 am

    I didn’t realize he started Chuck until I posted this. I’m not sold on uWink, though. We don’t have enough screens these days?

    Have you seen the National Geographic series on the 1980s? Just aired in 6 parts. There was a nice piece on Jobs.

  5. 5 Marty Goldberg June 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Actually, if you want the full stories behind all of that (Steve Jobs at Atari, the creation of PONG and Chuck E. Cheese), you should check out our book Atari Inc. – Business Is Fun.

  6. 6 2W2N June 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Looks very interesting, Marty. I’ll have to save up!

  7. 8 leftylimbo June 13, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Woo hoo, count me in on saving up for that too. In Amazon’s book description it says the original name of Chuck E. Cheese’s was Rick Rat’s Big Cheese Restaurants…LOL! Classic.


  1. 1 Promotional Video for Atari Adventure Entertainment Centers, 1983 | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on November 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm

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