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Ted Dabney, co-founder of Atari gaming company, passes away at 81

Contributed by
May 27, 2018

Ted Dabney, who co-founded the Atari gaming company with Nolan Bushnell in 1972, has reportedly passed away at the age of 81 from esophageal cancer. News of his alleged death was broken by video game historian Leonard Herman on Facebook, who wrote: 

"I just learned that my good friend, Ted Dabney, the co-founder of Atari, passed away at the age of 81. RIP dear friend. Your legacy will live on a long time!"

Born in San Francisco in May of 1937, Samuel F. "Ted" Dabney worked for the California Department of Transportation as a teenager before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he found his passion for electronics. From there, he found jobs with Bank of America and Hewlett-Packard. Not long after, however, he was hired by Ampex in the early 1960s, an electronics' company, which would also hire Dabney's future business partner and Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell.

The two men worked on preliminary video game designs for Ampex before setting off on their own, nurturing the idea of a place that served pizza and houses gaming cabinets, which would be activated by coins. In essence, they came up with the idea of the classic arcade. Their company was originally called Syzygy, but was changed to Atari when they learned that another company already had the title. In the early '70s, Atari introduced what is widely considered one of the first arcade video games, Pong

Due to being reportedly shut out by Bushnell, Dabney left Atari in 1973 and worked for various electronic companies over the following years, eventually founding one called Syzygy; he also ran a grocery store and delicatessen. Dabney's revolutionary contributions to the world of video gaming were not well-known until Herman did a profile on him in 2009 for Edge Magazine

Here's what some of Dabney's fans had to say on Twitter upon hearing the news of his death: