What Happens When You Bring Atari, Chuck E. Cheese and Engine Yard Together?

When I think about Atari I’m immediately brought back to my childhood and the many hours spent hunched over my Atari console while gazing into its beautiful 128-color graphics. In 1972, Nolan Bushnell co-founded Atari and released Pong with his partner Ted Dabney, one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. In 1977 they went on to release the now famous Atari 2600, forever changing the lives of hundreds of millions of gamers and credited by many with creating the video game industry. Following Atari, Nolan went on to found many ventures including Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator, Etak, the first car navigation system, Androbot, a personal robotics company and Chuck E. Cheese! Nolan is a fearless technology pioneer, entrepreneur and scientist. His latest venture, Brainrush, is an educational software company that uses video game technology with real brain science, in a way that Nolan believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan also just released his latest book.


I had the good fortune of meeting Nolan through his son Brent, also a lifelong engineer and entrepreneur. Brent brings together his passions for education and live amusement to inspire kids to be makers. Using software, art, and hardware he creates projects for clients ranging from Google to Disney, and conferences to hotels. His creations leap beyond the digital screen and into the real world.

We are thrilled to announce Nolan and Brent Bushnell as keynote speakers at Distill, Engine Yard’s inaugural developer conference, where they will talk about technology, entrepreneurship and always pushing boundaries. Here is a little more information on Nolan and Brent:

Nolan Bushnell is best known as the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. Mr. Bushnell is passionate about enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science, and truly enjoys motivating and inspiring others with his views on entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and education. Currently, Mr. Bushnell is devoting his talents to fixing education with his new company, Brainrush. His beta software is teaching academic subjects at over 10 times the speed in classrooms with over 90% retention. He uses video game metrics to addict learners to academic subjects. Over the years, Bushnell has garnered many accolades and distinctions. He was named ASI 1997 Man of the Year, inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame, inducted into the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame and named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men That Changed America.” He is also highlighted as one of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial icons in “The Revolutionaries” display at the renowned Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.

Brent plays at making technology fun. He is he currently the CEO of Two Bit Circus, an LA-based idea factory focused on education and amusement. Previously he was the on-camera inventor for the ABC TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a founder of Doppelgames, a mobile game platform company that sold to Handmade Mobile in 2012 and a founder of Syyn Labs, a creative engineering collective responsible for the hit OK Go Rube Goldberg machine music video and other large scale spectacles. His particular passions include group games, out-of-home entertainment, and inspiring kids via programs such as NFTE.

Distill is a conference to explore the development of inspired applications. The call for papers is now open and tickets go on sale in April.