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It was with great sorrow that video games fans learnt that Atari co founder, Ted Dabney, suffers from esophageal cancer in its terminal stage and has just 8 months to live.
“Atari co-founder Ted Dabney had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer several weeks back. We had been asked not to post about it back then when we were first told about it, but the situation is apparently worse than before. Ted has decided not to seek treatment and has been given about 8 months to live. I’m very very sad right now”, the Atari Inc. Business is Fun book authors, Marty Goldberg y Curt Vendel, said on Facebook.
“He told me when we talked on the phone. He said que had about a year left as there was no cure, he prefered not to seek treatment. Nonetheless, he is in a great mood, laughing and joking as he usually does”, the author of Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry, Leonard Herman, told BioBioChile, book whose introduction was written by Dabney.
Dabney, who is 80 years old, met his co founder, Nolan Bushnell, when both worked as engineers at the tech company Ampex. In 1971, they set up Syzygy, but due to a commercial issue with the brand they decided to create Atari in 1972.
Using his daughter’s bedroom, under Bushnell’s instructions, Danbey created the company’s first product: a version of the Spacewar! game called Computer Space. Even though he title did not have major repercussions, the same circuits were later used by Al Alcorn to conceive Pong, the hit game that made Atari skyrocket.
Today, the 1.500 videogame cabinets produced at that time are currently highly sought after and can be sold on eBay at around 2,500 US dollars.
Until he left the company, in 1973, Dabney kept a low profile amidst conflicts with Bushnell, who ended up being the one in charge. However, both recovered their friendship afterwards.
Life, nonetheless, was not easy for Dabney given that, apart from monetary struggles, his life saw tragedy more than once, with his brother Doug, who worked at Atari, passing away in 2013 after a long agony related to a coronary disease.
Besides, in August 2016, he lost everything he had after one of the fires that devastated North California consumed the house he and his wife shared.
His fans’ admiration was even expressed through a campaign to help him purchase a new home, which fortunately was not necessary thanks to his insurance, but in October 2017 he had to evacuate it again after another fire emergency occured. That time, though, there were not any damages.
Nevertheless, this seems to be the end for one of the pioneers of the video game industry, whose role at Atari tends to be underestimated due to his former work mate’s personality and superiority.