Nolan Bushnell

Founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. Father of the Video Game Industry. Creator of first video game, "Pong", Author of Finding the Next Steve Jobs. Innovator, Pioneer, Entrepreneur, Scientist.

Nolan Bushnell is a technology pioneer, entrepreneur and scientist.  Often cited as the father of the video game industry, he is best known as the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. Bushnell was the first and only man to hire the late Steve Jobs and wrote the bestseller, Finding the Next Steve Jobs, published by Simon and Schuster in 2013.  

Mr. Bushnell is passionate about enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science, and truly enjoys motivating and inspiring others with his views on entrepreneurship, culture, creativity, innovation and education.

Over the past four decades, Bushnell has been a prolific entrepreneur, founding numerous companies, including: Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator; Etak, the first car navigation system whose mapping is still the basis for car navigation systems today; Androbot, a personal robotics company; and ByVideo, the first online ordering system, which allowed customers to order and pay for product from kiosks. Additionally, he has consulted for numerous corporations, including IBM, Cisco Systems and US Digital Communications. 

His latest startup, Modal VR, is an end-to-end virtual reality platform that delivers large-scale and fully wireless immersion for multiple users at once. The Modal VR ecosystem delivers new possibilities and growth in the enterprise VR market.  Additionally, his company Brainrush has developed video-game based learning software that incorporates adaptive learning technologies to vastly increase the speed and efficacy of learning.  

His Anti Aging games project helps seniors to avoid many of the problems of mental aging through game exercises that maintain mental flexibility and problem solving.  He was most recently featured in the New Yorker magazine for this effort. 

Over the years, Bushnell has garnered many accolades and distinctions. He was named ASI 1997 Man of the Year, inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame, inducted into the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame and named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men That Changed America.”  He is also highlighted as one of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial icons in “The Revolutionaries” display at the renowned Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. In March of 2009, Bushnell was honored with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Fellowship Award (BAFTA) the highest accolade the Academy bestows, for his outstanding creative contribution to the Video Games Industry. He was similarly honored with a LARA award from the German Academy of Entertainment.  Currently a biopic about Bushnell, tentatively titled Atari, is in pre-production. The story was acquired by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company and is set to star DiCaprio as Mr. Bushnell.

Nolan Bushnell Intro Speaking Video:

Introducing Modal VR:

Secrets to Success by Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari and Chuck E Cheese’s:

The End of Teaching and the Golden Age of Learning:

Bushnell has created many business cultural innovations that have become the norm, including unique business planning sessions, flat egalitarian management organizations, casual work attire, play/work environments, creativity as a competitive weapon, and the innovator’s bonus.  All can be traced to their first use at Atari and Chuck E. Cheese and later instilled at Apple and other Silicon Valley corporations.  (Steve Jobs had his first job at Atari.)

Bushnell received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, where he is a Distinguished Fellow and also attended Stanford University Graduate School. 


“Nolan was indeed a hit! And what a nice guy! He had everyone mesmerized with the stories he told to the point where we actually extended his time on stage for a bit as people couldn’t get enough.”

Maria Relaki
Portfolio Director

“Nolan’s talk turned out great. Every person I talked to at the event said that he was inspiring and was the best talk of the event. That’s pretty rare feedback. They were also glad he spent so much time mingling at the event.” – Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer for VentureBeat’s GamesBeat 


Bushnell is known for his relaxed manner, humor, one-liners and is regularly quoted.  He often is scheduled as the after lunch speaker as he is one of the few that can keep any audience engaged.  He can speak using an extensive PowerPoint with hundreds of historical pictures, current laboratory projects and future concepts.  

He likes to mingle with the audience before and after his presentations and makes himself available for autographs and pictures.  His motto is that a good speaker learns as much as he teaches.  

He is often asked to lead creative problem solving sessions involving the senior management group of corporations.  He has spurred out-of-the-box thinking in the groups with surprising results.  


  • Innovation:  How to foster it, encourage it and capitalize on it.
  • The Future of Technology and Gaming:  Where is the industry going?  Why?  Where are the pockets of potential?  What pitfalls should companies avoid?
  • Intrapreneurship:  How to encourage and build a culture of intrapreneurship in companies, helping established entities to stay on the cutting edge.
  • Entrepreneurship:  Why it is essential to business today?  What are the key elements of a successful entrepreneur?  How do you recognize it and tap into it?
  • Education:  What are the trends in education now and moving into the future?  How will classrooms and learning be different in the years to come?  How will they remain the same?  How will education evolve in light of today’s and tomorrow’s technologies?
  • The Future:  What tools have been used in the past to be on the cutting edge as technology becomes available and cost effective?  What are the trends that every company and discipline need to be aware?
  • Success and Failure:  While there have been many successes, there have been spectacular disappointments when businesses fail to launch.  Often we learn more from our failures than our successes.  
  • Fun:  What is it about fun that makes products and companies successful?  How does creating “wants”, not just “needs”, power success?
  • Family:  Bushnell has 8 children and has been asked to talk about success and failure and how both affect family life.  His son Brent, an entrepreneur in his own right, appears regularly on “Extreme Home Makeover” providing technological additions to unique needs.  They can appear together for an interesting father/son dialogue.  

About “Finding The Next Steve Jobs

Silicon Valley legend Nolan Bushnell founded the groundbreaking gaming company Atari in 1972, and was Steve Jobs’ employer and mentor, as he was for many other creatives over the course of his five decades in business. In his eagerly awaited first book, Bushnell explains how to find, hire, and nurture the people who could turn your company into the next Atari or the next Apple.

“If you can fix your company’s bureaucracy, if you can streamline your creative chain, if you can establish a workplace where innovation is rewarded and naysayers are denied power… if you can play with toys, if you can follow many of the other pongs in this book, you may well be fashioning a workplace that cultivates creativity. In that case, the next Steve Jobs may already be applying for a position at your company…. You might even find that the next Steve Jobses are already working for you—although if that’s the case, the odds are good that they’re wilting under your company’s hierarchy, their inspiration destroyed by your management team, by the lack of support for their ideas, by the fear that taking a risk will lead to being fired …It isn’t enough to find the next Steve Jobses and hire them; you have to create a situation in which they can flourish, and then your company can, too. “



Nolan Bushnell’s blogs:

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