×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ted Dabney, Atari Co-Founder and Video Game Industry Pioneer, Dies at 81

Atari co-founder Samuel “Ted” Dabney died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

An electrical engineer and former U.S. Marine from San Francisco, Calif., Dabney developed “Computer Space,” the world’s very first commercial video game, with Nolan Bushnell in 1970. The game was a failure upon release in 1971, but in June of the following year, the pair launched Pong, Atari’s smash arcade hit.

Although he left the company in 1973 after a falling out with Bushnell, Dabney made an indelible mark on the video-game industry. He famously built Atari’s earliest arcade machines from repurposed TV components, and played an instrumental role in shaping the unmistakable sound effects that defined the arcades of the ’70s and ’80s. Despite their differences, the pair collaborated on Pizza Time Theatre, which later became known as Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Dabney spent time at Raytheon and Fujitsu, and continued making games under the banner of his own Syzygy Game Company. He later owned and operated a grocery store and deli with his wife, Carolyn. Dabney was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late 2017.

“Ted was my partner, co-founder, fellow dreamer, and friend,” Bushnell tweeted upon hearing the news. “I’ll always cherish the time we spent together.”

On Saturday morning, Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel, authors of the book “Atari Inc.,” paid tribute to Dabney in a Facebook post: “We’re at a loss. We just got word that our friend, one of the nicest, sweetest down-to-earth guys we knew, Atari co-founder Ted Dabney, has passed from his cancer. Thought he still had a bit more time. You always wish someone like him did.”

More Gaming

  • 'God of War' Wins Six G.A.N.G.

    'God of War' Wins Six G.A.N.G. Awards, Including Audio of the Year

    Sony Santa Monica’s “God of War” won a total six of awards at the 17th annual Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) Awards held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco Thursday night. The Norse-themed action-adventure game won audio of the year, music of the year, sound design of the year, best cinematic cutscene audio, best [...]

  • 'Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines' Sequel

    'Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines' Sequel Coming in 2020

    Paradox Interactive has announced a sequel to cult RPG “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodline” is currently in the works, with plans for a release in 2020. “Bloodlines 2” will see players take on the role of a fledgling vampire in the first-person stealth game, inhabiting a world of vampiric clans and political factions fighting to [...]

  • Epic Game Store Redesign, User Reviews,

    Epic Game Store Redesign, User Reviews, Gifting Inbound

    Epic Game Store is getting a redesign, user reviews, gifting, and much more over the coming year, the company announced during a talk at the Game Developers Conference Thursday. The talk kicked off with Epic Games outlining the store’s “core values.” Sergey Galyonkin, Epic Game Store’s director of publishing strategy, said those values are: a [...]

  • Hands-On With Nintendo Switch's Mixed Bag

    Hands-On With Nintendo Switch's Mixed Bag Labo VR Kit

    Nintendo is making a virtual reality headset … Well, Nintendo is making you make a VR headset out of cardboard. Announced earlier this month, the Nintendo Labo VR Kit is the fourth set in the company’s line of creativity minded Labo products, where players build their own “Toy-Con” controllers, then use them to play games [...]

  • Epic Talks Exclusives, Tencent, 'Metro' Backlash

    Epic Talks Exclusives, Tencent, 'Metro' Backlash

    After a short talk about the brief history and planned future for Epic Games Store, the people behind the service opened their GDC talk up to a packed room filled with developers. And those present didn’t hold back. They asked about how Epic would deal with porn in the store, if investor Tencent had any [...]

  • To Survive, ‘EverQuest’ Must Honor Past,

    To Survive, ‘EverQuest’ Must Honor Past, Embrace Future

    ‘EverQuest’ is 20 years old this year. Twenty-five expansions later, multiple spinoffs, a full sequel, and two high profile cancelations after its March 1999 release, the landmark MMO is still a regular destination for its most stalwart players. The tale of ‘EverQuest’s’ evolution is told in the original release’s technical requirements: Windows 95, 32 MB [...]

  • GameStop Appoints George Sherman as CEO

    GameStop Appoints George Sherman as CEO

    Video game retailer GameStop has appointed George Sherman as its new chief executive officer, effective Apr. 15, it announced on Wednesday. Sherman replaces Shane Kim, who’s served as interim CEO since May 2018. Shane, a former Xbox executive, took over the role after Michael Mauler resigned after just three months on the job. He reportedly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content