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Posted 19 Nov 2001   For week ended November 09, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 07Nov01

By Vickie Speek

Mormon 'Father of Video Games' Back with New Company

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of "Pong" and the Atari 2600 home video-game system, is ready to eat up our quarters again. Bushnell, an inactive member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has started a new company in California that makes arcade games for the next generation of gamers.

The company, called uWink, produces coin-operated machines that can be connected to the Internet to receive software updates, more game play levels and, ultimately, to connect players from around the world to play online. Quiz contests, card games, action titles and puzzle games are also included.

Considered the "Father of Video Games," Bushnell, 58, learned his craft from two places. He first managing the Midway carnival games at Lagoon, an amusement park near Salt Lake City, while he earned his electrical engineering degree at the University of Utah. He was also "what you would call a groupie" of David Evans, the first chairman of the university's computer science department in the late '60s and guru to graduate students such as Adobe Systems founder John Warnock, Pixar animation founder Ed Catmull and Netscape founder Jim Clark.

Bushnell was most interested in games. After moving to California to attend Stanford University, he converted his daughter's room into a lab where he created "Computer Space," the first marketable video game. Realizing the game was too difficult for the average person to play, Bushnell dumbed down the controls and created the video game "Pong" in 1972.

It was also during this time frame that Bushnell formed the hugely successful Atari 2600 home video-game system. He later sold Atari to Warner Communications, but retained ownership of his Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlors until about 1983. He also started Catalyst Technologies, a venture-capital group, and was chairman for Octus, a telecommunications company.

uWink produces about 70 arcade machines a week. Six locations in Utah have already purchased the games.


'Pong' inventor gets back into video games
St George UT Spectrum (Salt Lake Tribune) 21Oct01 B4
By Vince Horiuchi


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