Samuel "Ted" Dabney, one of the earliest industry pioneers and one Co-founder of Atari, died on May 26 after a fight against cancer. He was 81
The news has many of his contemporaries and veterans of the video game industry mourn the loss of such an important player in the early development of the first arcade games.
Dabney had a varied career during his work life. He was a US Marine, an electrician at Bank of America, a grocery store owner, and a caterer. But it's his time at Atari and his second company, Syzygy Game Company, for which he is best known and remembers.
Dabney co-founded Atari along with his friend and colleague Ampex associate Nolan Bushnell. Inspired by computers they had seen at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Friends founded Atari in 1972 and produced their first game Computer Space . Dabney was responsible for the physical function of the game – using affordable components from standard TVs rather than computer parts that were much more expensive.
Although not a commercial success, Atari would continue to use the concept developed by Dabney the first game to create his second, a much more popular and influential arcade release: Pong
After a quarrel with Bushnell left Dabney Atari in 1973, but stopped by founding new games that Atari would use for its own gaming arcades. He also spent time working in companies like Raytheon and Fujitsu before leaving the video game industry and opening a grocery store with his wife.
Dabney was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the end of 2017 and, as reported by Eurogamer, chose not to receive treatment
Since the news of his death became known, a number of Dabney's colleagues have published statements praising him. Historian Leonard Herman said that his legacy will live long, as he mourned the loss of his "good friend". The official Atari Facebook account took a moment to promote its own cryptocurrency to announce the sad news and a little more time. Whatever a bad blood between Dabney and Bushnell seems to have been now, when Bushnell tweeted that he would always appreciate the time he and Dabney spent together.
Ted was my partner, co-founder, collaborator and friend. I will always appreciate the time we spent together. RIP
– Nolan K Bushnell (@NolanBushnell) May 26, 2018