Tales of the Creation of the Video Game Industry

Interactive media and games increasingly pervade and shape our society. In addition to their dominant roles in entertainment, video games play growing roles in education, arts, science and health. These talks bring together a diverse set of experts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on these media regarding their history, technologies, scholarly research, industry, artistic value and potential future. As the speakers and title suggest, the series also provides a topical lens for the diverse aspects of our lives.

Join us TUESDAY’S From April 4th until June 6th from 12pm-1pm in the Sapp Center for Science Teaching & Learning RM 114

Can’t make it to the talk, but have a question for Ian? Submit your question HERE and it will be asked. By submitting your question, you’re allowing mediaX to use and record your submission.

Also listed as one-unit course BIOE196. For more information contact Ingmar@stanford.edu


Allan Alcorn

Allan Alcorn, Tales of the Creation of the Video Game Industry. Before Pong there were several attempts at using electronics with some kind of display to play games. Most prominent was Steve Russell’s Spacewar! but it only ran on a PDP 1 so only computer scientist could play it. Atari was formed to create a new kind of arcade amusement machine that used digital computer technology to deliver a new, cost effective form of entertainment to the public. Pong’s immediate success allowed Atari to grow rapidly and create a new industry that is very healthy today. I will talk about the many challenges we had to overcome to create a viable business from financing a new company to dealing with regulatory issues that threatened to shut us down. I will talk about the constraints that the technology placed on us and how those constraints led to creative solutions.

Allan Alcorn is an electrical engineer and computer scientist who was the third employee of Atari and chief engineer who designed Pong and several early video games and led the development of many of Atari’s products until 1980. After Atari he worked at Apple as an Apple Fellow where he led a project that developed advanced digital video compression that led to the MPEG video compression standard. In 1993 he started a company that created the first multimedia slot machine that revolutionized the slot machine industry. In 1998 he was a founder of a toy company, Zowie, that spun out of Interval Research. Currently Al works with startups as an advisor and does youth mentoring with a volunteer group Hack the Future. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California Berkeley.