Warren Robinett

Warren Robinett began his career at Atari as videogame designer, where he designed Adventure, the first action-adventure game. In 1980, he co-founded the Learning Company, a major publisher of educational games. He became a VR researcher in 1986, first at NASA Ames Researcher Center, and later at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During 2003-2012, he was a researcher at HP Labs, studying defect-tolerant computing and memristor-based memory systems. He is currently completing a book, Making the Dragon, about his 1979 Atari game Adventure.

Talk Description:

From Atari to Virtual Reality

Warren Robinett was educated at Rice and Berkeley, and his subsequent 40-year career path resembled the trajectory of a small steel ball being catapulted from bumper to bumper in a pinball machine. He designed video games at Atari, designed educational games at (and co-founded) the Learning Company, was an early VR researcher at NASA and UNC, and was a computer-architecture researcher at HP Labs. This talk covers the first few ricochets in that career path—design of video games (focusing on Adventure), educational games (Rocky’s Boots), and VR systems (the NanoManipulator). This food for thought is served up with the crude and quaint graphics of yesteryear as the main course, and with selected implementation details and political stories as side dishes.

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