Atari co-founder Ted Dabney passes away
Gaming pioneer and Atari co-founder Ted Dabney passed away on Saturday at the age of 80. Historian Leonard Herman, who told Dabney’s story in an article for “Edge” magazine in 2009, announced his death on Facebook.
In 1971, Dabney co-founded Syzygy with Nolan Bushnell where they developed Computer Space, the world’s first commercially available arcade video game. Rather than use an expensive computer to run the game, Dabney repurposed cheaper analog and digital components used in standard television sets to create the game’s programming using a video circuit.
In 1972, Bushnell and Dabney changed the name of Syzygy to Atari, where Dabney’s Computer Space video circuit would be used by Al Alcorn as the basis of Pong, the game that made the Atari a household name. Dabney left Atari after a falling out with Bushnell, though he still helped Bushnell launch Pizza Time Theater, the predecessor of Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Dabney went on to work for major technology companies including Raytheon, Fujitsu, and Teledyne. He later bought a grocery store in California’s Sierra mountains and finally retired to northern Washington at the age of 69.
In late 2017, Dabney was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was told that he had eight months to live. Dabney chose at that time to forego treatment.
This is the second blow struck to the gaming community this week, as popular gaming YouTube personality John “TotalBiscuit” Bain passed away on May 24 at the age of 33 following a battle with bowel cancer. Examples like these should be stark reminders that cancer doesn’t care if you’re famous or how old you are, so be proactive and get yourself checked. Life is “one token, one play,” after all.