Atari pioneer Steve Bristow has died

Steve Bristow, a video game pioneer who worked for Atari in its early days and is credited with conceptualising early smash Breakout, has died. He worked as an intern on Computer Space – the world’s first arcade game – alsongside Nolan Bushnell, when Atari was just a twinkle in the developer’s eye.

Former Atari employee Steve Bristow

Former Atari employee Steve Bristow

Bristow then moved with Bushnell to Nutting Associates before Bushnell left to form Atari with Ted Dabney. Soon after, Bristow followed, before heading off to create Kee Games with Atari defector Joe Keenan, where he worked on the full colour multiplayer Indy 800 and – importantly – the seminal gaming experience Tank.

When Kee Games was folded into Atari in the mid-70s, Bristow oversaw the company’s Coin Engineering division, later climbing through the ranks to VP of Engineering for the Computer Division before leaving the company – and the industry in 1984. He then focussed on a very successful electrical engineering career.

Despite not making video game headlines for more than 30 years, Nolan Bushnell still considered Bristow one of the world’s most powerful gamers following his work on the Atari 2600.

He’s remembered by Marty Goldberg, co-author of Atari, Inc: Business is Fun, on the Atari Museum Facebook group.

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