Steve Jobs, Atari Employee (1974)

Steve Jobs, 1970s

Frank Cifaldi, at video game industry Web Site Gamasutra, has published a fascinating look at the early years of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs, who passed away last week at age 56, worked as a technician for Atari in Los Gatos, CA after dropping out of college in 1974.

The article describes how Jobs first arrived at Atari looking “scuzzy” and that the company’s Pong engineer, Al Alcorn, said “He really doesn’t have much skills at all.” Nevertheless, the future visionary was hired and did fairly well for himself. Here’s a tasty quote:

“Jobs was hired as Atari employee #40, as a technician fixing up and tweaking circuit board designs. One of his first roles was finishing the technical design of Touch Me, a simple arcade memory game similar to Ralph Baer’s later Simon toy. He more than likely helped out on other games that year, such as racer Gran Trak 20 and the odd experiment Puppy Pong

After about five or six months of saving money and working the night shift (often inviting friend, collaborator and eventual Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak into the office to help him with engineering challenges), Jobs approached Alcorn to let him know he was quitting the company to go to India, meet his guru, and conduct what he referred to as ‘spiritual research.'”

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