The Secret Link between Chuck E. Cheese, Pong, and Apple

What do Chuck E. Cheese, Atari, and Steve Jobs have in common?

Believe it or not, Atari (remember Pong?) and Chuck E. Cheese were both started by the same person – Nolan Bushnell. And Steve Jobs worked for Nolan Bushnell at Atari as a technician in quality control before he left to start Apple.

Listen to an intriguing NPR interview with this serial entrepreneur.

Anyone who can master both technology and pizza and who has started at least 12 other companies must have a lot to say. Here are a few pearls of wisdom we pulled from the interview:

  • We tried to make [Atari] a meritocracy where outcome was the only thing we counted. Everybody knew what they needed to do…we weren’t Big Brother.
  • A good failure is good for your soul.
  • I force myself to do something totally outside my comfort zone every year.

One more piece of trivia: when Steve Jobs left Atari he offered Nolan Bushnell a 1/3-stake in Apple for $50,000. Nolan Bushnell turned down the offer…