The man who gave Steve Jobs his first job is getting into mobile gaming

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Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell: Managing talent should include more fun and games Photo: Flickr/Campus Party Mexico
Atari's Nolan Bushnell was a mentor for Steve Jobs.
Photo: Campus Party Mexico/Flickr

Atari founder and Steve Jobs’ first employer Nolan Bushnell has announced that he is teaming up with Amsterdam developers Spil Games to create a series of original mobile games.

As part of the deal, Bushnell will develop three new games, with the first set for release in 2017. During his time at Atari, the entrepreneur oversaw the development of such classic games as Pong, Adventure and Breakout — the latter of which also happened to be the first collaboration between Jobs and fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak.

“The future of gaming has a very strong mobile component,” Bushnell said in a press release. “It’s where most people play games and it’s where the technology and ideas are developing most quickly.”

Spil Games is currently a top 90 publisher in the App Store, although it is hoped that the new collaboration with Nolan Bushnell will lead to bigger and better things for the development house.

Now in his seventies, Bushnell played an important formative part in Jobs’ life. “Steve and I got to be very close friends,” he said last year. “We lived about two blocks away from each other and he would show up on his motorcycle on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and we would go and get a cup of tea and talk about various business issues that he had and I would give him advice.”

In 1976, he made a massive tactical error when Jobs asked him for a $50,000 investment to start a computer company: a cash injection that would have given him a third ownership stake in the business which became Apple. Bushnell turned it down on the basis that Atari was also making computers, and this would be a conflict of interests.

Can he make back all that lost money with his new, as-yet-unnamed iOS games? Almost certainly not, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what Nolan and Spil games are able to come up with.

Source: Gamesutra