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Nolan Bushnell

Nolan Bushnell

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


One of Newsweek’s “50 Men that Changed America”, Nolan Bushnell is the quintessential technology pioneer, entrepreneur, scientist, and engineer.  Often cited as the Father of the Video Game Industry, he is best known as the co-founder of Atari Corporation and the founder of Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre.  Today his design credo – that games should be “easy to learn and difficult to master” – is inspiring a new generation of developers.  Nolan was the first and only person to hire Steve Jobs (at Atari), which he details in his and co-author Gene Stone’s 2013 book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs, published by Simon and Schuster.  In October 2023 he released his second book, Shaping the Future of Education, which he co-wrote with Dr. Leah Hanes, and which was published by Greenleaf Book Group Press.  He pioneered many of the workplace innovations that have made Silicon Valley a long-standing magnet for creative talent.

Over the past four decades, it’s astounding what Nolan has created as a prolific entrepreneur, founding more than 20 companies, including:  Atari;  Chuck E. Cheese;  Catalyst Technologies, the first tech incubator in Silicon Valley;  Etak, the first car navigation system whose mapping is still the basis for car navigation systems today;  Androbot, a personal robotics company;  ByVideo, the first online ordering system, which allowed customers to order and pay for products from kiosks;  uWink, the first touchscreen ordering, entertainment and check out system at restaurant tables;  X2, a game company focused on powerful new tech for games for Amazon’s Echo;  and Modal VR, an end-to-end virtual reality platform that delivers large-scale and fully wireless immersion for multiple users at once.

Today Nolan is Chairman of ExoDexa Holdings, Inc., a gamified education company focused on engaging and efficient learning.  Additionally, he is Chief Knowledge Officer of Moxy, a platform which facilitates anyone to become an eSports competitor.  He also sits on several Boards focused on games, robotics and other advanced tech.  In 2019 Nolan released a multimedia murder mystery game titled St. Noire, made for Amazon’s Echo powered by Alexa that won the “Best Innovation” award at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show.

Nolan has also consulted with many of the world’s biggest corporations, including IBM, Cisco Systems, US Digital Communications, and many more.  He’s been featured hundreds of times in the media, including in Forbes, Bloomberg, Fast Company, WIRED, the Economist, Yahoo, NPR, CNET, CNBC, and many more.  He has won numerous awards around the world, including a BAFTA, and has been featured in many documentaries, including CNN’s “The Eighties” Series, produced by Tom Hanks, and in “Game On” on The History Channel.  Nolan was given a cameo in the major 2013 film “Jobs” starring Ashton Kutcher, a tip of the hat to Nolan for his role in hiring Steve Jobs for his first and only job ever at Atari.  A biopic about Nolan, tentatively titled “Atari”, with Leonardo diCaprio as Executive Producer is also in the works.




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

    Nolan Bushnell, speaker and founder of Atari 2Silicon Valley legend Nolan Bushnell, speaker, 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. “