You probably know Nolan Bushnell as the creator of Pong and Atari. And yes, the guy even gave us Chuck E. Cheese, for better or worse (probably worse).
Bushnell first started futzing around with gaming technology back in the sixties when he was attending the University of Utah, and he certainly went pretty far from there. So what’s the guy been up to lately?
Well, the L.A. Times tells us he’s talking to the press, which he normally doesn’t do that often, because he’s got a documentary on PBS on the pioneers of venture capital (VC), called Something Ventured, which will air in February. Bushnell was a consultant, and was also interviewed for the documentary as well.
In addition to Something Ventured, he’s also got a new book coming out, Finding the Next Steve Jobs. How on earth anyone’s going to find the next Steve Jobs is beyond me, but Bushnell hired Jobs back in 1974, and he liked his unique, quirky style.
Bushnell told the Times he never saw “the evil Steve Jobs,” and the Steve he knew “was always the most well-mannered and respectful guy I knew. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. I guess he didn’t think I was a fool.”
Bushnell looks back on the beginnings of venture capital fondly, because like the early days of the gaming industry, everybody was flying by the seat of their pants. “We were all trying to figure out what was going on back then,” he recalled. “There were no templates.” (Eventually Bushnell was able to raise $30 – 40 million for Atari once things started expanding).
There will always be new geniuses in technology creating new innovations, but as Nolan notes, “Radical innovation is difficult to fund. It seems scary. And the really radical things seem even more scary.”
Indeed, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and in the spirit of Jobs, here’s to more geniuses in the wings flying by the seat of their pants and changing the world.