Der Spiegel Does Interviews Differently


From Der Spiegel International‘s interview with Pong creator/Atari founder Nolan Bushnell:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: When was the last time you were stoned?

Nolan Bushnell: Oh boy. That was probably 1977. I wasn’t a big user anyway, it was just parties.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: There are legends about people in the Atari assembly lines in the beginning, when you sold the first Pong machines, smoking joints. Are they true, or not?

Bushnell: Actually not. We had rock music in the assembly line. But we didn’t allow any drug use while people were working. People probably violated that on occasion. But it was not part of the corporate culture. The ethic of Atari was “work hard and play hard — and keep them very separate.” The reason we became known as something of a party company was that we had a very young work force. People preferred having a big party to having bonuses. So if they hit quotas, they would have a beer bash that was paid for by the company.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about the rumors of board meetings conducted on LSD? The video game historian Steven Kent mentions that in his Ultimate History of Video Games.

Bushnell: Not true. To my knowledge, no acid was ever used at Atari. Steven Kent is a great guy. But he tries to sell books any way he can.

Beer bashes? Board meetings on LSD? We’re totally working in the wrong career field.