There was kind of a celebration in the lab one day when Nolan came in and
told us that he had been awarded a patent for a "Video Image Positioning
Control System for Amusement Device." He said "this makes Atari the official
originator of the video game".
The only video games being made in those days were the large arcade type and
Atari sometimes shipped up to 100 a day. Every single one contained a TV.
There were no monitors then so we might receive 100 televisions every day.
We had a department called "TV MOD" where the picture tube and it's chassis
were removed from the plastic case which was thrown in a large dumpster. We
eventually got a crusher to compress the plastic cases. The chassis was then
modified to accept the composite sync signal.
TV mod was just one guy who wore his complete band uniform, including high
hat and shoulder Epaulettes, to work every day. He had an area against one
wall about 15 X 30 feet, and began to surrounded himself with gray metal
shelves. After he had put shelves all around his area he covered the back of
them with the cardboard from the TV boxes. When that was done he used a black
felt tip marker to draw brick shapes on all the cardboard. He had left an
opening to get in and out and even that had cardboard doors with a cardboard
spire on the top. The whole thing looked just like a castle. We eventually
had to take it all down because we suspected there was some dealing going on
in the castle.
We had a bomb scare one time where we all filed out into the parking lot.
While the building was being searched there were a lot of parties going on
in Volkswagen buses. Nothing was ever found but there were rumors that it
was an excuse for NARCS to conduct a search. It was the 70's in California.
One summer the air conditioning went out and it couldn't be fixed for some
time. Nolan Bushnell came out to the production floor with his bull horn and
announced that we would leave the large loading doors open, install some fans
and that everyone could wear whatever they wanted. The only exception was the
people who were soldering had to have a towel on their lap. The next day all
the young girls wore bikinis. The air conditioner was fixed in record time
much to the dismay of many of the young guys.
I see there is a picture of Nolan with his pipe tagged on the end of one of
administrator Justin's posts. We remodeled Nolan's office one time and put
a large vent over his desk for all the pipe smoke. I can still smell it now.
Castle Building at Atari
Posted 21 November 2017 - 07:28 PM
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