By Geoffrey Golden . May 5, 2009 . 6:16am
Talk about leveling up. According to his keynote at the Los Angeles Game Conference 2009, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell launched the company with only $250 in capital. This was in 1972. Five years later, they sold the company to Warner Bros. for $28 million dollars, and by 1982 Atari generated $2 billion in annual sales.
Today, Nolan is a wealthy man, but the co-creator of Pong and the founder of Chuck E. Cheese could have been even more wealthy. Way more wealthy. At the keynote, Nolan told the story of two engineers under his employ at Atari: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They were partners, and Jobs was “too abrasive” to work with other engineers, so Nolan created a “night shift” for them to work on, and gave them a project none of the other engineers wanted. A game called Breakout.
Obviously, Breakout broke out as a huge hit and the Steves decided to found Apple Computer. Nolan’s big regret? They offered him 1/3 of the company for a mere $50,000 investment, and he turned it down.
Ah well. You can’t win ‘em all.