Thursday, January 1, 2015

Annotated Atari Depositions, Part 1

Today I thought I’d try something different and see if goes over well. In the past several months, I’ve come into possession of a number of legal documents from various video game lawsuits of the 1970s. I thought I’d post some of the info to see if there’s any interest. These documents came from two primary sources:

1)    Some were sent to me by William Ford, who obtained them from NARA. (I think I mentioned it earlier, but Ford is the author of the excellent article on the Allied Leisure v Midway lawsuit found here

2)    Ralph Baer. Baer had a huge amount of materials from the Magnavox lawsuits. Some of it (from the 1985 Activision suit) has already been posted online. Other material, he sent to Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel for archiving. Marty was kind enough to share some with me.

Speaking of the Ralph Baer materials, Marty and Curt are currently working on scanning the material they have and putting in a Ralph Baer repository, which I think will be made available online. This is awesome news and a great way to honor Ralph’s memory. (he wanted his materials to be made available to researchers) In case you didn’t know, Ralph was an absolute packrat. He kept everything. And from what I’ve seen, there’s all kinds of stuff in here. Depositions from Willy Higinbothom, Bill Nutting, Alan Kotok, Steve Russell, Nolan Bushnell. Internal company documents (including documentation on unreleased games, contracts, financial statements. Old magazine articles. References to little known corners of video game history. This stuff promises to be a treasure trove for video game historians or just plain video game history fans.

The stuff I have is voluminous, however, running to over a thousand pages. I, of course, have read it all. So I thought I’d save people the trouble of doing likewise and post some of the stuff I found most interesting (though I only have a tiny percentage of the total).

I’d thought I’d start with transcripts of some of Nolan Bushnell’ depositions in the Magnavox trials.

First, however, here are a couple of documents you might find interesting.
First up is the 1972 Royalty Agreement between Nolan Bushnell and Bally.


This is the contract Syzygy had with Bally when they incorporated as Atari.
Note that this is actually between Nolan and Bally, not Syzygy and Bally.
Note also that it is only for two games (not three as some have reported). The pinball game was a three-level game with the levels based on heaven, earth, and hell (at least according to Nolan, who said it was called Transition - though another document refers to it as Fireball. This was  the same as Bally's popular Fireball pin, which came out earlier).
Contrary to popular belief, after Bally turned down Pong, it did not cancel the contract. Nor did Bally license Pong to them in fulfillment of the contract (they did license Pong, but not to fulfill the contract).
The contract was actually fulfilled by Space Race, which Midway released as Asteroid. They also claimed that Atari was in breach of contract for having released Space Race on its own. IIRC the solution was that Atari agreed to forego the 3% royalty on Asteroid to make up for it.
Next time, I'll post the Pong licensing agreement, but for now, I thought I'd start posting some of the depositions I mentioned.
The first is from January 13 and 14, 1976. This is only about an eighth of it. If I decide to continue, it will take me a while to get through it. And if my OCR doesn't get a good portion of the text, I may end up dropping the whole thing (unless I get a lot of positive feedback).
I will add some notes at various points (marked "[NOTE - blah blah blah]").
For those who don't know, in April of 1974, Magnavox (manufacturer of the Odyssey) filed the first of its many lawsuits to protect the Sanders Associates/Ralph Baer patents on the Brown Box/Odyssey.
They started by bringing suit against Seeburg and Chicago coin, but eventually extended the suit to include Atari, Sears, Bally, and many more companies.

On to the deposition:
This part concerns Nolan's work history in college. Some will probably find it boring, but I found it kind of interesting. Part two will probably be of more interest.

Deposition of Nolan K. Bushnell

Tuesday, January 13, 1976
Wednesday, January 14, 1976

Be it remembered that pursuant to notice of taking…..yadda yadda yadda…at the hour of 10:20 AM….personally appeared Nolan K. Bushnell, called as a witness, who….

Mr. Williams: This is the deposition of Nolan K. Bushnell and Atari, Inc., and is being taken pursuant to Notice in three civil actions all pending in the Northern District of Illinois.

The first action is…

Mr. Williams: Would you state your full name, please, Mr. Bushnell.

A. Nolan K. Bushnell.

Q. Are you the same Nolan K. Bushnell whose deposition has previously been taken in the civil actions just referred to, Magnavox versus Bally?

A. Those two, yes.

Q. What is your present residence?

A. 15289 Top of the Hill Road, Los Gatos, California, 95030.
[NOTE - not sure if this was in the ritzy section of town or not, but I think this is what the place looks like today:

Q. Are you presently employed?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. By whom are you presently employed?

A. Atari, Incorporated in Los Gatos.

Q. What is your position with Atari, Inc.?

A. Chairman of the board.

Q. Did you hold any other positions with Atari incorporated?

Q.  Do you hold any other positions with Atari, Inc?
A.  No, I do not.
Q.  What are your present duties as chairman of the board?

A.  Primary direction of the company, strategies, plans, future developments.
Q.  How long have you had these duties with Atari?

A.  Approximately 2 1/2 years.
Q.  What were your duties with Atari prior to that time?

A.  I was president of Atari.
Q.  How did your duties when you were president differ from your present duties?

A.  I was more involved in day-to-day operations. 
Q.  How long were you the president of Atari?

A.  Since its founding in February or March 1972.
Q.  And you were president from that time until you became chairman of the board?

A.  That's correct.
Q.  Have you held any positions with Atari other than president or chairman of the board?

A.  No.
Q.  Would you briefly outline your education for us since high school?  I gather you graduated high school?

A.  Yes.
Q.  What has been your education since that time?

A.  I went to Utah State University in engineering, later in business.  I transferred to the University of Utah at which I pursued a degree in economics and later graduated in engineering.  Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering.
Q.  For how many years were you at Utah State University?

A.  Approximately three.
Q.  Three calendar years or three academic years?

A.  Three academic years.
Q.  When did you commence your studies at Utah State University?

A.  If had to be 1961.
Q.  So you were there from 1961 through 1964?

A.  I believe that's true.
Q.  When did you begin your studies at the University of Utah?

A.  I actually started, I took a summer class at the University of Utah in 62 or 63, but then I later lived closer to the university than I did to Utah State and then I transferred full time to--
Q.  What that in September of 1964?

A.  No.  I believe I transferred mid-year.  I believe I transferred the winter quarter.
Q.  Of what year?

A.  I don't remember.
Q.  Do you think it was approximately 1964 or 1965?

A.  I think that's close enough.
Mr. Herbert: I might say that among the things that you have requested we are proposing to obtain some materials which would more exactly set the dates that Mr. Bushnell was at Utah State and the University of Utah and we do not have those items but we will be getting them.

Mr. Williams: is that primarily in transcript you were referring to?

Mr. Herbert: the transcript.
Mr. Williams: Q. When did you graduate to the University of Utah?  When did you get your degree?

A.  I graduated in the class of ‘69, but I graduated mid-year and it was December of ‘68, I believe.

Q.  While you were in college were you a fulltime student, or were you employed part time.

A.  I was employed all the time.

Q.  Can you give us an outline of the jobs you held while you were in college?

A.  Sure.  I went to work for Litton Guidance Systems.  I worked during school year for Hadley, limited which is a clothing store.  I worked for one of the industrial engineering departments for a while.  I don't remember exactly who the professor was.  Then I worked for my own company which was an advertising company for several summers, and I worked for Lagoon Corporation as manager of the games department.  Initially I started working at Lagoon as just someone--you know, as one of the employees and was made manager three seasons later or two seasons later.
[Note - Nolan's advertising company was called the Campus Company. Three times a year, he made blotters for four different universities with a calendar of events in the center and advertising around the outside. He gave the blotters away and sold the advertising, supposedly making about $3,000 for each one (they cost about $500 to produce). Or so says Nolan.]

Q.  Did you hold any other jobs while you were in college?

A.  Oh, I sold Encyclopedia Americana for a while.  I operated some coin machines at Lagoon in Salt Lake City.  That's about it of any substance.
Q.  Do you recall the approximate period of time which you worked for Litton Guidance Systems?

[NOTE  - Litton Guidance and Control Systems was a division of Litton Industries. It made guidance systems for military aircraft. They had a huge facility in Salt Lake City (I think they still do). They are now known as Northrop Grumman Navigation Systems Division.

On a side note, the military actually had a strong presence in the area of Clearfield, Utah (Nolan’s hometown) at the time Nolan was born. Hill Air Field (later Hill Air Force Base) opened in 1940 and became an important supply depot during World War II. As did the Clearfield Naval Supply Depot, which opened in 1943. It might seem odd to have a military supply depot in the middle of Utah but they picked it for its dry climate, large local population, and security from enemy attack.]

The Clearfield business district in 1941 (Two years before Nolan's birth


A.  I think it was ‘61 or--I think it was the summer of ‘62.

Q.  Just during the summer of ‘62?
A.  Yes.

Q.  And you said you worked for one of the industrial engineering departments?  Do you recall what period that was?
A.  I think it was the fall quarter of ‘62 or ‘63.  It was for one of the professors.

Q.  What were your duties in this job?

A.  Draftsman.  Some design.

Q.  Design of what?

A.  Irrigation systems.
Q.  Agricultural irrigation systems?

A.  Yes.
Q.  When did you commence your employment with Lagoon Corporation?

[NOTE - Lagoon Amusement Park is located in Farmington and looks like it was a pretty cool place. It as built by future Utah governor Simon Bamberger in 1886 to draw customers to a railroad he was building between Salt Lake City and Ogden. It's still in existence. They almost tore it down after World War II, but didn't (if they had, video game history might be different). The Beach Boys even mentioned in in their song Salt Lake City.

One might wonder why the Beach Boys would mention a local amusement park in a song but I think a better question is why anyone is there a song about Salt Lake City.
Note too that there is no mention of Nolan's going to work for Lagoon because he lost his tuition money in a poker game. He's told that story on more than one occasion. In other accounts, however, he claims that he went to work there because he had his day job selling calendars and thought that the easiest way to keep from spending money was to get a night job.

These accounts aren't mutually exclusive but I've always found the poker story a bit too-good-to-be-true. Plus, as you can see, Nolan was no stranger to work, so I think he has plenty of money.]
Yes, that's Janis Joplin riding the Flying Jets at Lagoon Amusement Park. You think maybe Nolan...Nah!

Holey Moley, that's Jimi Hendrix playing Lagoon Amusement Park in 1969. Maybe I should take back my earlier comment.
Photos from

A.  I started in the summer of ‘63.
Q.  How long were you with Lagoon?

A.  I was with Lagoon for five years.
Q.  What your employment with Lagoon continuous over that five-year period or were there breaks in it?

A.  It was hot and heavy, of course, during the summer months.  It fit very well with an academic career because there were always plans that were made and things that were being done all year long and it was a situation where we could put in as many hours as we wanted a two as long as it was job-related--you know, that there was work to do and generally it was pretty much part-time work during the winter months.

Q.  But there was not a period during that five-year when you weren't employed by Lagoon either on a fulltime or a part-time basis?

A.  It was kind of a thing where I always knew the people and any time I wanted to work I could.  It was hard to say, you know, when I was not employed and when I was with the relationship we had.

Q.  Where you paid on an hourly basis or a salary basis?

A.  Hourly.  After I was manager it was essentially a salary because it was fixed, you know, a fixed amount and you made the big thing on the profit-sharing basis.  We had Christmas bonuses that generally would finance the fall and winter quarter.

Q.  You initially when you were with lagoon that you were initially just an employee.  What were your first duties when you first went to work for lagoon?
A.  My first duties were I was the Spill-the-Milk operator.  That's a game in which a patron comes to knock over milk bottles with baseballs.  You stand out and say, "Step right up and come and play the game and win a stuffed animal."

Q.  And this was an amusement center of some type operated by lagoon?
A.  Well, Lagoon Corporation is an amusement park outside of Salt Lake City.

Q.  After you were the Spill-the-Milk operator, what were your next duties for Lagoon?
A.  Well, after about a half a season I became--you know, they moved us around and I ran and Shooting Waters and Guess Your Weight, Bowling and Tip 'Em Over and Flukie-Ball.

[NOTE - Flukey Ball was the one where you tried to land a ball in a basket with a sloping board over it. I don't know if it was gaffed or not.

Q.  Did you have any connection with coin-operated amusement machines during that period of your employment?

A.  Yes, I did.  Bowling was a game that we had which I was an operator on for months and it involved maintenance of the machines as well as selling.

Q.  As well as selling what?

A.  Well, getting people to play the games.

Q.  But bowling was a coin-operated games?

A.  Yes, it was.  Skee-Ball was also a coin-operated game which I operated.

Q.  How many employees did Lagoon Corporation have when you first went to work with them?

A. During the peak of the season, during the summer months - - and there were actually three corporations, but they were all owned and run by the same one. So when I talk about Lagoon Corporation it’s actually Amusement Services that was the corporation that I worked for, but it was all considered to be Lagoon even though I don’t know why they had been separated that way.

Q. What were the other corporations?

A. The Fun House Corporation. I think that as the same of it, something like that. I think they split that out because the Fun House is an extremely high-liability thing. People are always breaking arms and legs and things like that. So I think from a liability standpoint they had it separated out.

Q. What as the third corporation.

 A. Lagoon Corporation. Amusement Services ran the food operations and the games. Lagoon Corporation owned all the heavy capital equipment, rides, everything with the exception of the roller coaster. I think the roller coaster as a separate corporation also and, again, I think it was from the liability standpoint.

 Q. Did Lagoon Corporation have any arcades with coin-operated pinball machines and things such as that?

 A. Yes, they did.

 Q. Were the arcade located in the—

 A. Well, that was Amusement Services again that had the arcades, not Lagoon Corporation, if we’re going to divide those.

 Q. Were the arcades located in the park?

 A.  Yes, they were.

Q.  When you were made manager, were you still employed by Amusement Services or were you employed by Lagoon?

A.  It was all Amusement Services.

Q.  When you were made a manager for Amusement Services what were your duties?

A.  It was too essentially operate a complete games department.  I had P and L responsibility, hiring, firing, maintenance responsibility, planning responsibility.

Q.  What types of games were included in the games department?

A.  Coin-operated games, ball-throwing games, penny-pitchers, shooting games, arcade, quick-draw games, guess-your-weight games, basketball-throwing game, High Strikers, Skee -Ball, photo studio, coin-operated photo machines, water pistol games.  Let's see, what are some of the others?  Rolldown, fun balls, darts, Bingoring which is a coin-operated game, Bang.  That's about it.

[NOTE I believe "Bingoring" is actually "Bingorino", a "rolldown" game made by Scientific Machine Company as a followup to their popular "Pokerino" (in which you made poker hands). I think the Broadway Arcade in New York had a row of these machines.

I didn't find a picture of Bingorino, but here's Pokerino]


Q. You said Bingoring as a coin-operated game

A. Yes.

Q. Could you describe the game Bingoring?

A. Well, it has a series of holes which you roll a ball down and attempt to get a bingo. Each of the holes are numbered and it lights a light on the back. You get certain patterns, you win points which can be traded for prizes. Oh, baseball was another one.

Q. You mentioned that tone of the areas was an arcade. Would you briefly describe what the arcade was or what it contained?

A. Well, it was a traditional penny arcade which had various things that you can do. The direct responsibility for the arcade was a fellow called Steve Hyde. It contained photocard machine, pinball machines, peep shows -- not the X-rated kind, but, you know, look and see the San Francisco Earthquake and that kind of stuff. There were a few that the little boys thought were really racy at that time, but it's nothing in comparison to what we have now. It also vended fish food to feed to the carp in the lake. Skiing machines, baseball machine. Hockey machines. Driving machines. Just the regular tuff you see in any amusement park arcade.
Q. You said Steve Hyde had responsibility for the penny arcade?

A. Yes.
Q. Did Mr. Hyde report to you or did you report to Mr. Hyde?

A. We reported on an equal level to Mr. Freed.
Q. F-r-e-e-d?

A. Yes. We shared P and L responsibility and maintenance responsibility of the equipment.

Q. As manager was it your responsibility to select the games that were run by Amusement Services Corporation?

A. Only those which were out on the midway. Mr. Hyde and I would discuss the things, but it was ultimately Mr. Freed's decision as to capital equipment purchase. We would both make recommendations.

Q. How many employee did you have reporting to you while you were manger?

A. 60 to 100.

Q. What was Mr. Freed's position?

A. He was president of Amusement Services. He might have been general manager, I'm not sure. He was the man, though. He was the boss. I'm not sure exactly what his title was.

Q. Did you find that when you and Mr. Hyde made recommendations concerning the games to be purchased by Mr. Freed that he often accepted your advice?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. How long did you remain a manager of the Amusement Services Corporation?

A. I was manager for three years.

Q. During that entire period did your duties were as you just outlined them for us?

A. Yes.

Q. At the end of this period did you then leave Amusement Services Corporation?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. What was your next employment after that?

A. Ampex Corporation.

Q. I think you stated that for a period while you were in college you were employed by Barlow Furniture during TV and appliance repair and delivery?

[Note Barlow Furniture was actually owned by the husband of Nolan's second cousin.]

A. That’s correct.

Q. Could you outline the nature of your duties concerning television repair?

A. I was really good at switching tubes around. I didn’t have the capital equipment to do some of the heavy repairing. That was left up to some of the other people.


Q. You say you didn’t have the capital equipment?
A. Yes.

Q. Were you working as a contractor for Barlow essentially or –

A. No. I was just employed on a salary. Hourly, actually.

Q. But were you using your own equipment, your own television repair equipment?

A. Yes, I had my own pliers.

Q. Prior to the time that you worked for Barlow did you have any background in television service or—

A. Well, I played around with ham radio. I had a ham license in 1955, I guess. I was one of the youngest ham radio operators in Utah. That was when I was about ten or eleven, I guess. I just always fooled around. I fixed my own TV’s and then pretty soon I started fixing the neighbors’ TV’s and, you know, it just kind of mushroomed. I worked for Barlow, incidentally, all during high school. It was just kind of one of those evolutionary things.

[NOTE that Ted Dabney disputes this claim (Nolan fixing TVs when he was ten), as detailed here.

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey (I’ll try to forego the “Let me tell you sonny” and “by cracky"s, If you are of my age, you probably remember when changing tubes on a TV was easy. They used to have little stations at the front of every grocery store and supermarket where you could test them. On top was a kind of breadboard that you plugged your tube into to test it and underneath was a rack of tubes. While a ten-year-old could easily have handled that, apparently that was not the case in the 1950s. Back then (says Ted) changing tubes was much more difficult, not to mention dangerous.

You young ‘uns have probably never seen one of these since now, as George Carlin once said “We are essentially tubeless.”
Whether Dabney's claim is true or not, I can't say (I'll take his word for it). Nor am I convinced that Nolan could not have done some minor TV repair in his youth. Alexander Smith discussed this issue  in a recent blog post
 and I basically share his opinion on this one, though I'm a tad more skeptical.
While I think there may be some truth to Nolan's claim, however, there was a motive for him to exaggerate his abilities (not that I'm saying he did so). Nolan has always said that the spot motion circuit he filed for Pong was all his work while Ted says it was his. Ted says that Nolan didn't have the knowledge of television electronics to create such a circuit. Claiming that he repaired TVs would establish that he had the such knowledge (though he wouldn't have to claim he did it when he was ten).

BTW - if you haven't checked out Alex's blog, do yourself a favor and do so.]



Q. While you were working for Barlow all during high school during that entire period you were involved in the fixing of televisions?

A. That’s true. It wasn’t my primary responsibility. I’d say I was a better washerman. We were at RCA at that time.

Q. You were what?

A. RCA at that time.

Q. Barlow was RCA?
A. Yes.

Q. You mean they were an RCA dealer?

A. Right. We didn’t like the Magnavox guy down the street.

--- (gap?) ---

Q. You said while you were in college ??? some coin machines on a route in Salt Lake City?

A. That’s correct.

Q. When did you start operating coin machines that way?

A. It had to be about 1965, I think. Each year in the arcade they’d junk some machines or sell them off to employee for five bucks. I’d repair them and fix them up and put them around in some fraternity houses at school and keep them operating and collect the money and split the revenue with the house manager of the fraternity house.

Q. And over how many years did you do that?

A. Three years.

Q. So you did it until approximately the time you left Amusement Services?

A. Yes. I sold my route at the time to one of my fraternity brothers.

Q. Any you had control over which game you placed on your route?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you have any employees?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. What type of coin machines did you place in various places on the route?

A. Primarily they were baseball machines. The sports game always seemed to do very well.

Q. Would you describe what you mean by baseball machines?

A. It as a machine which essentially consisted of two buttons as far as player controls. One controlled the pitch and the other one controlled the bat. You pushed the pitch button and it would roll a steel ball down toward the bat which, when you pushed on it, it would hit the ball up into a series of holes along the back. If you hit the center hole you’d get a home run and the little man would run around the playfield. If you hit one to the corners you’d get a single or if you hit another place you’d get an out. The object was to obviously hit the bet holes without hitting the out, and if you got three outs the game would be over. There were several variations on the basic theme. Some of them would have little ramps that if you hit the ramp it would knock it up into the bleachers. Which would be a special home run and it would give you three runs or something like that.

[NOTE – The “Baseball” games Nolan is talking about are called “Pitch-and-Bat” games in the biz. The unit with the baserunners is called a “running man” unit.

Here is an excellent site where you can read more about, as well as other EM games. (I got the picture below from there, which is actually from a football game.]

Q. Is there any other type of machines you place other than baseball machines?

A. There was one that was called a Boozarometer which essentially was a stick or a wand that had a ring on it that was captive on a wiggly piece of wire, and you would put in a coin and attempt to not touch the wire while moving this spring around. If you touched it the game would be over and a bell would ring. So the idea was to get it clear across the wire without touching it, which is a difficult task. It supposedly was more difficult when you had been drinking than if you hadn’t been.

[NOTE – I think he meant to say “Booz-Barometer”]

<Lines 22-27 missing?>

Q. You stated that you graduated with a BS in engineering: is that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Any particular field of engineering?

A. Electrical engineering. Essentially it was a computer-oriented electrical engineering degree that I had.

Q. What do you mean by computer-oriented?

A. Logic design, systems design, software.

Q. You mean that you took courses in logic design and systems design itself?

A. Yes. You had many electives internal to the engineering department that you could major in like power distribution, you could major in circuits or you could major in semiconductors, or you could major in computer design, and based on the engineering elective that you took it would pretty much determine, you know, where your interest was and ultimately where your job would be.


  1. FWIW, switching tubes was actually quite simple on 50s B&W TVs. There weren't that many of them, and the set ran at lower voltages than color sets. Ted may have been referring to early color sets like the RCA CT-100 which debuted in 1954. Those first color sets were designed to squeeze all the quality out of the newly-minted NTSC standard and therefore were unusually complex and had a lot of tubes. However, color sets were pretty rare until the mid-60s, by which time the bean counters had successfully removed most of the complexity (and some of the picture quality) in order to make them affordable.

    For what it's worth vis-a-vis Nolan's story, I successfully "juggled tubes" in my parents' late-60s Zenith color console starting at age 11 and kept it running into the 1990s by which time replacement tubes were hard to find (Radio Shack sold them by special order until around 1993 or 1994 if you got a sales associate who knew about it, but between then and the rise of eBay it was near-impossible to find any). That said, even if Nolan had done heavier-duty TV repair I don't think that would necessarily qualify him to have invented any circuits so I tend to think he'd have no reason to lie here.

  2. Arbee: No, Ted was referring to black and white televisions of that period and the abilities and knowledge of a 10 year old in that period. The late 60s onward period is a bit different, the TVs were more serviceable and certainly more options existed for self-servicing as Keith recounted.

    In regards to your last statement, the problem is that's exactly what Nolan's using it for. To marginalize Ted's contributions and claim he didn't need Ted to do the original spot motion circuit they used for Computer Space because he (Nolan) had repaired televisions as a 10 year old and knew how everything functioned.

    1. I agree with your last paragraph Marty, but there are really two claims and two time periods to consider here. Today, I think he does make the claim of repairing TVs from a young age to set himself up as a whiz with the circuitry and therefore marginalize Dabney. However, there is a difference between his current claim (repairing TVs at ten years old) and his deposition claim (doing some TV repair, but more appliance repair, for Barlow while in high school). In the context of his 1976 deposition, he had no need to marginalize Ted or show that he was a precocious electronics savant: all he needed to show was that he was an engineer who was exposed to and designed computer games before Ralph Baer did. This is why I do not think he lied in his deposition about his work experience: it would be stupid to risk his credibility as a witness on a non-material point.

  3. Can't wait until you get to the part where Vendel and Goldberg claim Bushnell still worked for Nutting when he attended the Magnavox Calvacade and first saw the Odyssey, even though he didn' work for themt. They claim Bushnell left Nutting on June 1st, but they picked that date out of a hat because they have no physical evidence to back it up. So much for all that 'vetting' of theirs...

    1. Well, a few things on that. First of all, how do you explain the name of a fellow Nutting Associates employee on the hotel registry checking in with him? Second, they did actually state that the document from Bally was dated June 1st and they elaborated that Bushnell still worked for Nutting for a time afterwards. Have you seen the document and thus can nullify their claim?

      Lastly, the May 13th issue of Cash Box still identifies Nolan (spelled "Nowland Bushnell") as a Nutting engineer participating in service schools. I don't really know why you call this point into question or what it actually changes about the story even if it's untrue. It certainly surprised me that Atari was founded so soon after leaving Nutting Associates, but all the evidence is there.

    2. I call this point out b/c they don't have any evidence to back up their claim, and this is but one of many. But don't take my word for it. Here's the word of someone who happens to be a professional historian, Leonard Herman:

      "I had come to the conclusion that Bushnell no longer worked for Nutting when he attended the Magnavox Calvacade and saw the Odyssey. The two men who represented Nutting, both signed in at the same time and wrote "Nutting" next to their names. Bushnell signed separately and has no company affiliation.

      In their book, Marty and Curt wrote that Bushnell still worked for Nutting at the time. They're basing it on Steve Bristow's memory that Bushnell came back from the demonstration and talked about the Odyssey. Marty and Curt think that Bushnell left Nutting around June 1 and they mention it in the book, although it's only conjunction on their part.

      Ted Dabney told me that he's pretty sure that Bushnell was gone from Nutting when he saw the Odyssey. Ted did say that Bushnell became a contractor for Nutting to help build the two-player Computer Space and that's when he probably went back there and talked about the Odyssey."

    3. So your conjecture is that Bushnell just happened to be there at the same day that these other two were there and it just happened to be two weeks after he was stated to still be an employee of Nutting in a contemporaneous trade publication? It's as dangerous to take Dabney at his word as it is to take Bristow at his word, you know. You can't just assume that his telling is accurate because he's been sidlined.

      Also I spoke with Rod Geiman and while he didn't really remember the Caravan event, he stated that Charles Fibian was not a Nutting employee himself. Fibian was a distributor in the general area that was not a direct employee of the company. The same is true with Brad Freggar, who worked under Geiman but now for Nutting. This was common, and the lack of a company affiliation could mean as much as "Nolan forgot" or "Nolan was in a hurry".

      Again, I don't know what it proves if Nolan was not a Nutting employee by the time he made the deal with Bally. Eventually it ended and it was never a huge factor in any of the court cases (there was one that Atari launched against Nutting later and Nutting lost).