Nolan Bushnell on the Future of Technology

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell delivered a memorable keynote talk at Technoport 2015 on the future of technology and gaming.
Nolan Bushnell at Technoport

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell delivered a memorable keynote talk at Technoport 2015 on the future of technology and gaming.

If you can't watch the video, here are some highlights:

on Norway

“What an incredibly glorious country you live in! I drove up from Bergen and everybody thought i was crazy - but that’s good! When i give a speech I try to do something that if half of you don’t think I’m totally bonkers then I’m not pushing it far enough. Anyway i drove up from Bergen, stayed two or three nights on the way and I can say without doubt we passed some of the most beautiful, fantastic environments that I have ever seen. You guys should wake up every morning and just say, “life is good!”

on starting in video games

"It all started with a big computer called a PDP1 and a guy called Steve Russell put a game called Space War on it. I was working in an amusement park because in America you have to pay to put yourselves through school, we’ll work out how to do it like you guys one day! I thought, if I bought this game to the amusement arcade and put a coin slot on it, it would make money. But dividing 25c a play into a million dollar computer, the math didn’t work, so I put that idea to one side."

"Four years later, I did Computer Space, which was basically a commercialisation of the game Steve Russsell did. So in a way I didn’t really invent the video game, Steve Russell did, but i commercialised it."

on Steve Jobs

"Steve Jobs was working for me and I put him on the night shift for two reasons. Firstly he didn’t bathe, which was a problem! And if I put him on the night shift, Steve Wozniak would come in and hang out with him! They did a game called Breakout which was a fantastic success and it launched the video game business in Japan. Later, I was offered 1/3 of Apple Computers for $50,000 which I turned down. I have regretted it!"

"I wrote a book called Finding the next Steve Jobs about how to find powerful people. It’s about intensity. What you don’t hear about Steve Jobs is how hard he worked. Of all the people who ever worked for me, he was the only one I regularly found sleeping under his desk in the morning. He had one speed: always on. With that power and intensity, you can do anything."

on failing

"Once you become one with failing, you can truly start to innovate, but it’s hard. People might laugh at you, people may not trust you anymore, but in reality today, there are venture capitalists that willing to invest unless you have one failure under your belt because they want to know you’ve been tested. Be willing to fail."

on the value of a college education

"I myself graduated in engineering at the absolute bottom of my class. Some would say that’s a very efficient engineer: I got no grade better than I needed to in order to graduate! Companies like Google and Apple, they want to know about the quality oaf your mind, your intensity, your work product, and not your college degree."

"Reading science fiction is a great way to limber up your brain. In the United States, the reading lists prepare the students for life in 18th century England, which I think is a mistake! What we really need to do is limber up our brain to think about the future that can be."

"I am really happy to hear you have a Maker Faire here. If you want to feel really excited about the future, just go to a Maker Faire. These are kids that are doing magical things and they are going to be entrepreneurs whether they want to or not."

on the singularity

"What happens when man can create technology that is smarter than the brain? I’m not too worried about it. But what is a trans-human anyway? I was drinking with a friend and we decided that with piercings and tattoos people are just getting ready for a world of bio-implants."

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