Ted Dabney, who founded Atari with Nolan Bushnell in 1972 and developed the first commercially available arcade game, has died. He was 80.
News of Dabney’s death spread on Facebook and other social media following a post from the video games historian Leonard Herman.
Eurogamer reported that the cause was esophageal cancer, which Dabney had been diagnosed with recently and chose not to treat.
Dabney and Bushnell had partnered in 1971 at a firm called Syzygy Engineering, where they designed and launched Computer Space. Though Pong is often thought to be the first commercially available video game, Computer Space preceded its launch by a year. The game was a variant on Spacewar!, the landmark video game developed in 1962 on a PDP-1 computer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In Sunnyvale, California in 1972, Dabney and Bushnell incorporated Atari . The circuit board Dabney developed for Computer Space was then used in the creation of Pong (developed by Allan Alcorn and then launched in November 1972).
Ted Dabney, co founder of Syzygy & Atari has died. His vision gave my generation more than people can comprehend unless they lived in the days when Atari was born & remember when the world was changed forever by the electronic dreams that company gave us. #Atari #TedDabney pic.twitter.com/Yhmku35EdA— Catherine DeSpira (@CatDeSpira) May 26, 2018
Samuel F. “Ted” Dabney was born May 15, 1937 in San Francisco. After graduating high school he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he took courses on electronics, giving his his training and interest in computer development. Dabney left Atari in the 1970s after a falling out with Bushnell. Much of Dabney’s story was recounted in a 2009 article in Edge magazine by Herman.
Those who wrote and published the 2012 book Atari Inc.: Business is Fun noted Dabney’s passing on Facebook with this post.