Allan Alcorn

2024 Fellow

For his pioneering role in the development of the video game and personal computing industries

They were exciting times. We risked the company every year on new ideas.

— Al Alcorn

Allan “Al” Alcorn, a major figure in the world of technology and gaming, is best known as the creator of Pong and as a key pioneer in the early days of the video game industry.

Born on January 1, 1948, in San Francisco, California, Alcorn’s passion for electronics and engineering emerged at a young age, foreshadowing a career defined by a love of learning and creative electronics system design.

Alcorn attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. After graduating in 1971, he worked at Ampex, where he met Nolan Bushnell who cofounded Atari and hired Al as one of the first employees in 1972.

Bushnell tasked Alcorn with creating a simple electronic game as a training exercise. This project would become Pong, a two-dimensional sports simulation of table tennis. Alcorn’s design was revolutionary for its time, featuring simple graphics and intuitive gameplay that would soon captivate audiences around the world. Pong quickly became a cultural phenomenon, marking the birth of the video game industry as we know it today. Its success laid the foundation for Atari’s dominance in the early years of gaming and helped popularize video games as a mainstream form of entertainment.

Alcorn’s contributions to Atari extended beyond Pong. He went on to oversee the development of several other iconic games, including Breakout, a brick-breaking arcade game created in collaboration with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the cofounders of Apple. In addition to his work in game development, Alcorn played a key role in managing product development and shaping Atari’s corporate culture, fostering a collaborative and creative environment that encouraged experimentation and risk-taking and laid the groundwork for the company’s success.

Alcorn left Atari in 1980 to pursue new opportunities, going on to cofound several technology startups, including Zowie Intertainment, a company focused on interactive entertainment, and Silicon Gaming, a company that designed and manufactured a revolutionary slot machine that changed the industry.

Throughout his career, Alcorn has remained a passionate advocate for innovation and technology. He has always inspired game designers and entrepreneurs with his generous advice about engineering and entrepreneurship. In recognition of his contributions to the video game industry, Alcorn has received numerous accolades and awards, including induction into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2011.


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