"The company that operates the chain of children’s pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent’s outdated image... CEC Entertainment Inc. says it plans to launch a national ad campaign Thursday with a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star," according to THIS article in The Washington Post today. (You can see the new version of the mascot in the Los Angeles Times HERE.)
This impending change sounds terrible to me. But the last line of the article caught my eye anyway. "The chain was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded Atari
and Pong." This revelation surprised me at first. But the more I thought about it, it wasn't really a surprise at all. Atari turned 40 itself earlier this week, according to THIS article in the USA Today. "The Atari 2600, launched in 1977, was the first video game console in
millions of homes, long before the Nintendo Entertainment System (1985),
Sony's PlayStation (1994) and Microsoft's Xbox (2001)."
I'd never heard the name 'Nolan Bushnell' before. Who is this genius of innovation? According to his Wikipedia article, he's still alive and is 69 years old. It sounds like he had a great 1977. That year he sold Atari, which he'd co-founded only 5 years earlier, to Warner Communications (now Time Warner) for $28 million, the same year the iconic Atari 2600 was launched. He also opened the first Chuck E. Cheese that year. But by November 1978, he was forced out at Atari and by 1981 he'd turned over day-to-day operations at Chuck E. Cheese. By 1984, the computer game market had crashed and Atari was split up and sold off. Chuck E. Cheese declared bankruptcy later the same year. Bushnell has continued to be a serial entrepreneur, apparently. But he's never had another year like 1977.