By Alan Katz
Illustrated by Chris Judge
Formats and Prices
- Trade Paperback $11.99 $15.99 CAD
- ebook $8.99 $11.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 6, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Everyone has heard the name Steve Jobs, but what about Nolan Bushnell–Jobs’s boss before the invention of Apple, and the founder of the first major video game, Pong? Many of the most relevant figures in tech history have remained in the shadows, but not any longer! From Alan Katz’s new Awesome Achievers series, Awesome Achievers in Technology gives kids a look behind the scenes at 12 lesser-known inventors whose contributions to tech are personally relevant to their lives today. Each figure is given a traditional biography but is also subject to Katz’s unique brand of silliness, with humorous elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries by and about the not-so-famous figure accompanying each bio.
Spot illustrations throughout add to the lighthearted and appreciative humor each figure receives. Reluctant readers and budding tech enthusiasts alike will delight in this imaginative and engaging introduction to a new series of laugh out loud biographies.
A NOTE FROM ALAN KATZ
The way I see it, there are three types of heroes. There’s the fictional, cape-wearing, web-shooting kind. Very exciting, but also very not real.
There’s the real-life, military, nation-saving type. Worth saluting, to be sure.
And then there’s a giant list of heroic figures that are unknown to most people. Top achievers whose work hasn’t been properly celebrated. They’re people who’ve given us important inventions or technological developments we may have taken for granted. I’m absolutely fascinated by folks who have done so much but have generally lived without fanfare. That’s why I’m about to give these people the attention and praise they deserve.
Of course, I should also tell you this: when I find out about one of these Awesome Achievers, my mind forms a ton of questions. Questions such as…
How did they do what they did?
What would it be like to be them?
How would I have handled the challenges they faced?
Then, I come up with some answers.
I’ll tell you about many of these people on the following pages. And I’ll share some thoughts about their accomplishments and how they’ve changed my life.
Warning: some of my thoughts might get pretty outrageous. But, hopefully, you’ll find these people and their very real discoveries as fascinating as I do. And, hopefully, you’ll laugh along with me.
Enjoy… and thanks!
MEET NOLAN BUSHNELL
If there’s ever a choice between playing video games and reading a book, I’d take the book every time. But I still admire the creative geniuses behind video games, especially Nolan Bushnell, who’s widely considered the Father of Electronic Gaming.
You might say that Mr. Bushnell was a born tinkerer and inventor; he was the kind of kid who would have been perfect for Shark Tank, had it existed in the 1950s and 1960s. As a teenager, he developed a roller-skate-mounted liquid fuel rocket in his garage. He also had a successful television repair business at that time, and he later worked at an amusement park while getting an electrical engineering degree at the University of Utah.
Not long after graduation, Mr. Bushnell moved to Silicon Valley, a region in the San Francisco Bay Area that is home to many of the world’s biggest technology companies. In 1970, he and a man named Ted Dabney designed and marketed Computer Space, the first commercial video game. And a year later, Mr. Bushnell and Mr. Dabney co-founded Atari.
Yes, Atari—the company responsible for classic video games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Atari started simply, with a 1972 worldwide sensation known as Pong. You’ve probably seen the game—it has a paddle on the left side, a paddle on the right side, and a “ball” moves back and forth on the TV screen. The object is not to let the ball get by your paddle. While it might not seem like much of a game, in the early 1970s, Pong was all the rage—first in arcades, and then in at-home versions. It’s now on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
The Pong at-home machine only played that one basic game. Mr. Bushnell and his team followed up with the Atari 2600, a console that accepted interchangeable game cartridges (more than 30 million consoles were sold following its 1977 introduction). Interestingly, it didn’t come with Pong.
Mr. Bushnell not only developed video consoles and games—including Centipede and Asteroids—but he also mentored and helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in the tech industry. Ever hear of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the men behind Apple? Before starting that company, they both worked for Mr. Bushnell, and they are credited with creating the Atari game, Breakout. (Mr. Jobs and Mr. Wozniak later offered to sell a one-third share of Apple to Mr. Bushnell for $50,000. He turned them down, and today, that stake would be worth over $330 billion.)
After selling Atari to Warner Communications, Mr. Bushnell worked in other areas of electronic media. He also founded a place to play video games—Chuck E. Cheese’s. That’s right; Mr. Bushnell didn’t invent pizza, but he did dream up and open the restaurant chain where kids can have a slice… and a slice of interactive fun!
Without Mr. Bushnell’s technological wizardry, it’s quite possible that you’d be living life without a PlayStation®, Wii™, or Xbox console. So, the next time you play a video game, say thank you to Mr. Bushnell. (Then put the video game down and read another book!)
- "Kids will zip through this excellent middle-grade biography because the author makes the information relevant and relatable."—--Imagination Soup
- On Sale
- Aug 6, 2019
- Page Count
- 112 pages
- Running Press Kids