Ted Dabney: The Passing of Atari’s Silent Co-Founder

Last week news broke that Atari’s Co-Founder, Ted Dabney had passed at age 81. We wouldn’t usually post this type of news on here as it has already been covered enough by the bigger online media outlets. However, we didn’t want Ted’s passing to go unnoticed by our readers, as Ted’s importance to the video gaming industry is equal to his contemporaries, like Nolan Bushnell.

Ted Dabney co-founded the tiny electronics company called Syzygy Engineering in 1971 (renamed Atari in 1972) with his more famous business partner Nolan Bushnell. Ted and Nolan had previously partnered to program Computer Space, the first coin-operated video game ever brought to market. Computer Space was produced at the Northern California trivia game maker Nutting Associates, named after its owner Bill Nutting.

image source: RePlay Magazine

At Atari, Ted played his part, along with designer Al Alcorn (and Bushnell, of course) in the design and production of Pong, the first “hit” TV game which ushered in the age of video gaming. If you have read Curt Vendel and Marty Goldberg’s Atari Inc: Business is Fun, you’d know the background to Ted leaving Atari (Ed: It wasn’t pretty nor fair to Ted). But Ted being Ted, he never harboured any ill will towards Atari and went on to work at electronics firms outside the coin-op business. Ted preferred a simple life to the limelight that Atari should have afforded him.

According to the Huffington Post, Ted died of the esophageal cancer he’d been fighting. He and wife Carolyn had spent part of his remaining years operating a grocery store up in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

May his legacy live on! Rest In Peace Ted Dabney.