Nolan Bushnell: Steve Jobs ‘was difficult but valuable’ to work with

“Somehow even when he’s sitting still, Nolan Bushnell seems to be in constant motion,” Mike Cassidy reports for The Mercury News. “He’s like a human ‘Pong’ game, bouncing from one thing to the next, not randomly but with purpose, going from cofounding Atari to starting kiddie restaurant Chuck E. Cheese’s to helping incubate dozens of other companies to a brief thing with high-tech eatery uWink to now launching education startup Brainrush and writing a book, ‘Finding the Next Steve Jobs.'”

“When he helped start Atari in 1972, Bushnell cemented his reputation as a valley pioneer. He’ll forever be associated with Pong, an early Atari game designed by Al Alcorn, which ended up in bars across America,” Cassidy reports. “And yes, it was at Atari that Bushnell hired Steve Jobs, who was 19 and not a very pleasant fellow. In fact, Bushnell is one of the few people who actually hired Jobs. (Jobs, as CEO of Apple and Pixar and founder of Next, was usually the one doing the hiring.)”

Cassidy reports, “‘Steve was difficult but valuable,’ Bushnell says. ‘He was very often the smartest guy in the room, and he would let people know that.’ But Bushnell remains awestruck by Jobs’ success and the way he grew into not only a top executive, but a visionary — a rare combination.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Why Breakout is the iPod’s default game – December 3, 2002

9 Comments

  1. I always pined for an Atari 2600. But it wasn’t in the cards. I like Nolan. Stories about him are amazing. Computer culture in the 70s and 80s was an amazing time. mmmmmm

  2. Why pick on Jobs now? Don’t each of us have idiosyncratic tendencies? Must be slow day in the MDN newsroom. At least this article is as full of speculation as most. happy easter.

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  4. In other shock news, water wet and often dangerous in large quantities.

    Surely the only revelations that would actually be newsworthy regarding Jobs now would be that actually he was insecure about his decisions and that he was a pussycat to work with; everything that Bushnell says is a retread of what every other account says – he knew what he wanted, he believed in thought-leadership, he disliked mediocrity at an almost psychotic level, he didn’t understand why other people didn’t have his clarity of vision.

    This is all stuff we knew pretty much before he died. No part of his personality is likely to change 18 months after his death. And I for one no longer need second opinions on Steve as much as I’d like there to be another Steve which is both unrealistic and a little morbid.

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