Nolan Bushnell Returns to Atari

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
Nolan Bushnell Returns to Atari

Nolan Bushnell, the industry icon who founded Atari [] back in 1972, has rejoined the company as a member of its board of directors.

Bushnell, a member of the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, has founded more than 20 companies including the famous Chuck E. Cheese's [] restaurant chain, but he's a legend among gamers as the co-founder of Atari, the pioneering home videogame company. He left Atari in 1978 but now he's back, joining the board of directors along with "online entrepreneur" Tom Virden, where he will "contribute actively to the company's planning."

"I am very excited to be reacquainted with Atari at a time when it is poised to make interesting strides in key growth areas of the games industry," Bushnell said in a statement. "The company and its iconic brands have always been important to me, and I look forward to further guiding them at the board level."

The announcement of Bushnell's return was accompanied by news that David Gardner and Phil Harrison had resigned from the board. Gardner had previously been an executive with Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios []; both joined Atari in 2008 as part of a high-profile effort to turn the company around. But they were shuffled out of their executive positions fairly quickly, although they remained on the board in non-executive roles.

As for Bushnell himself, he's made no secret of the fact that he dislikes the current state of the game industry, saying in More recently [] he described social gaming as "sitting in a dark room in your underpants talking to thousands of people... it's not cool."

Bushnell's return has obvious nostalgic appeal, but does he have a vision or is he just a cranky old man who thinks that everything new sucks? The departure of Gardner and Harrison, which merited only a single-line footnote at the end of the press release, is also potentially troubling, although something Gardner said during an interview in June 2009 may shed some light on their reason for leaving. "We can't trade on nostalgia. It's great for making art books about the past, but it doesn't build you a successful company for the future," he told IndustryGamers []. "We have to innovate, we have to redefine the IPs and renew IPs, so in a year's time I don't want to be known as the nostalgia company."


Jack and Calumon

Digimon are cool.
Dec 29, 2008
Does this mean that we can get a good Atari game?

Calumon: Jack tells me horror stories of his experience Alone in the Dark.


New member
May 4, 2006
That's cool and all, one of the founders of home video games and creator of the atari 2600 "comes back"

I just dont see this changing much on the consumer end really... unless he tries to self fund a new console or something :p


New member
May 31, 2009
Andy Chalk said:
Bushnell's return has obvious nostalgic appeal, but does he have a vision or is he just a cranky old man who thinks that everything new sucks?
Don't worry. While video games have changed considerably since his time, chances are he has cooked up some pretty great ideas during his hiatus.

Hail the return of the messiah. As it was written in video game prophecy, we now await the talking Freeman and Duke Nukem to usher in the RRODocalypse....


Evil Overlord
Jul 29, 2009
As a HUGE Atari fan, I am really excited about this news. Atari was a major driving force in the videogame industry and a bunch of poor decisions and bending to corporate greed caused their collapse.

Put under the right leadership I see no reason why Atari can't get back on top of the heap of AAA game publishers. I wish them the best of luck!


The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
Hmmm. Nothing better than bringing in the old to help with the new.

Im curious to see what he will do


New member
Aug 17, 2009
SkullCap said:
zombie711 said:
Can we see the realse of air world for the atari 2600 now.[/quote
zombie711 said:
Can we see the realse of air world for the atari 2600 now.
A fellow fan of the AVGN?
yup but I love atari because of classic game room (thank you mark). Also we need to
see the championship game that has a 90 minute time limit.

James B Hamster

New member
Apr 15, 2009
I'm honestly indifferent as to the quality of the products that this development offers: I'm content with the on-par- to mediocre-quality games the New Atari has been putting out, and while I appreciate the quirkiness of the Atari Jaguar (and Jaguar CD!) and take great pride in owning one, that also produced some... well, on-par- to mediocre-quality games of its own. Every incarnation of Atari has always been a bit "Meh" for me.

...Still, every time Atari crosses my mind, I always have to pause for a moment to wonder if it's Old Atari or New Atari, seeing how they're basically two different companies with the same name. This just makes things a whole lot cleaner: if Nolan Bushnell considers the New Atari to be "Atari" enough to rejoin the board, then the process of unification has come complete.

I like my histories to be convoluted, but easily summarizable.

Steve the Pocket

New member
Mar 30, 2009
I'm a bit disturbed by his statement that all current games are crap, but I would kind of like to see what someone who has that attitude and starts working for a video game company comes up with. As a social experiment. It's like the old Yahtzee quote that the best people to work on a sequel to a game are people who hated it.