Sad news for original retro gamers and lovers of all things Atari, as news came out today the Ted Dabney, one of the co-founders of the company, has passed away at the age of 80. Dabney’s close friend Leonard Herman broke the news today on Facebook.
Dabney is a name that many may not be familiar with, but without him, Atari may not have become the powerhouse it was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Dabney was one of the lead designers behind much of the company’s hardware when it first launched, having a hand in the design of Pong when it first went out into the market and eventually took the world by storm. To date, there’s still debate over how he eventually left the company — Dabney claimed he was forced out by Nolan Bushnell and Atari’s board of directors, while others claim he had a falling out with Bushnell and left on his own accord.
After Atari, Dabney went on to found Pizza Time Theater, the predecessor to Chuck E. Cheese, while also working on the company he helped found back in 1971 called Syzygy, until both companies went under. Dabney left the gaming industry shortly thereafter. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late 2017 and was given only a few months to live, but he opted not to seek medical treatment. If you’re interested in his career, you can find more information here and here. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.