Alan Miller is an early game designer and programmer for the Atari 2600 who co-founded video game companies Activision and Accolade.
Miller studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1973.
Miller joined Atari, Inc. in February 1977 and was one of the first four Atari 2600 game designers. His 2600 titles include Surround , Hunt & Score , Hangman and Basketball .With others, he co-authored the operating system for the Atari 400/800 computers in late 1978 and early 1979. His last game for Atari, Basketball, was one of the first ROM games for the Atari computers. Miller did not work on any Atari 2600 cartridges during his last year with Atari.
In late 1979, Miller left Atari with three other programmers, David Crane, Larry Kaplan and Bob Whitehead. They were disillusioned and disappointed with Atari's refusal to give them screen credit for any of the games they worked on. With music industry executive, Jim Levy, they formed Activision, the first independent video game developer and publisher. Activision rapidly grew to US$159 million in revenue in 1983, its third year of sales. Miller acted as Vice President of Product Development and designed several of the company's first games. Among his games designed while with Activision are Checkers, Tennis , Ice Hockey , Starmaster and Robot Tank .Miller experimented with implementing a 3D display for the game Checkers but due to technical limitations of both the Atari 2600 and television sets of the era, the idea was dropped.
Miller and Whitehead thought that diversification to other platforms, such as the home computers like the Commodore 64, was essential for success.Activision was resistant to this idea, so he and Whitehead left Activision in 1984 and together formed the game publisher Accolade. While with his new company, he designed only one game, Law of the West for the Commodore 64. Miller started as Vice President of Product Development but in a few years rose to Chairman and CEO.
After ten years at Accolade, Miller left in 1994. Ironically, Accolade hit hard times and in 1999 was purchased by Infogrames, which later changed its subsidiaries' names to Atari Inc., Atari Europe, Atari Australia, and Atari Japan respectively.
In September 2001, Miller rejoined David Crane at Crane's company, Skyworks Technologies, a leading developer of custom branded online games (advergames) for Fortune 100 companies, where he served as Vice President of Business Development for four years.
In 1997, Miller co-founded Click Health, a pioneering publisher of health education games for children with asthma and diabetes. The games were made available for Nintendo consoles and IBM PCs. Miller served as Chairman and CEO. Clinical trials of the company's games demonstrated significant effectiveness. In a clinical trial with pediatric diabetes patients at Stanford University Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente, children who played the company's diabetes game, Packy and Marlon , experienced a 77% reduction in urgent care visits over six months, compared to children in the control group who were given a standard video game to play. The company's anti-smoking game, Rex Ronan: Experimental Surgeon , is an interactive exhibit in the Health Odyssey Museum at the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, played by thousands of children each year as they tour the museum.
Unable to find significant interest in distribution of the effective games through health care providers, insurers, and government agencies, Click Health closed its doors in September 2001.
The Atari 2600, originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System or Atari VCS for short until November 1982, is a home video game console from Atari, Inc. Released on September 11, 1977, it is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on ROM cartridges instead of dedicated hardware with games physically built into the unit. The 2600 was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge: initially Combat, and later Pac-Man.
Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher based in Santa Monica, California. It currently serves as the publishing business for its parent company, Activision Blizzard, and consists of several subsidiary studios. Activision is one of the largest third-party video game publishers in the world and was the top United States publisher in 2016.
The video game crash of 1983 was a large-scale recession in the video game industry that occurred from 1983 to 1985, primarily in the United States. The crash was attributed to several factors, including market saturation in the number of game consoles and available games, and waning interest in console games in favor of personal computers. Revenues peaked at around $3.2 billion in 1983, then fell to around $100 million by 1985. The crash abruptly ended what is retrospectively considered the second generation of console video gaming in North America.
Pitfall! is a video game designed by David Crane for the Atari 2600 and released by Activision in 1982. The player controls Pitfall Harry and is tasked with collecting all the treasures in a jungle within 20 minutes while avoiding obstacles and hazards.
Infogrames North America, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher based in San Jose, California. The company was founded as Accolade in November 1984 by Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead, who had previously co-founded Activision in October 1979.
David Patrick Crane is a video game designer and programmer.
1984 saw many sequels and prequels and several new titles such as Tetris, Karate Champ, Boulder Dash, and 1942.
1980 saw the release of a number games with influential concepts, including Pac-Man, Battlezone, Crazy Climber, Mystery House, Missile Command, Space Panic, Zork I, and Olympic Decathlon. The Atari VCS grew in popularity with a port of Space Invaders and support from new developer Activision.
Imagic was an American video game developer and publisher that created games initially for the Atari 2600. Founded in 1981 by Atari, Inc. and Mattel expatriates, its best-selling titles were Atlantis, Cosmic Ark, and Demon Attack. Imagic also released games for Intellivision, ColecoVision, Atari 8-bit family, TI-99/4A, IBM PCjr, VIC-20, Commodore 64, and Magnavox Odyssey². Their Odyssey² ports of Demon Attack and Atlantis were the only third party releases for that system in America. The company never recovered from the North American video game crash of 1983 and was liquidated in 1986.
River Raid is a vertically scrolling shooter designed and programmed by Carol Shaw and published by Activision in 1982 for the Atari 2600 video game console. Over a million game cartridges were sold. Activision later ported the title to the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Intellivision consoles, as well as to the Commodore 64, IBM PCjr, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and Atari 8-bit family. Shaw did the Atari 8-bit and Atari 5200 ports herself.
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns is a platform video game originally released for the Atari 2600 by Activision in 1984. It is the sequel to 1982's Pitfall!. Both games were designed and programmed by David Crane and star jungle explorer Pitfall Harry. Pitfall II's major additions are a much larger world with vertical scrolling, rivers to swim in, and balloons that can be grabbed to float between locations.
Larry Kaplan is an American video game designer and programmer best known for the 1981 Atari 2600 game, Kaboom!. and for helping to found Activision.
Boxing is an Atari 2600 video game interpretation of the sport of boxing developed by Activision programmer Bob Whitehead. The game is based on Boxer, an unreleased 1978 arcade game from Whitehead's previous employer, Atari, Inc. Boxer was written by Mike Albaugh who also wrote Drag Race for Atari, a game cloned by Activision as Dragster.
Robert A. "Bob" Whitehead is an early game designer and programmer. While working for Atari, Inc. he wrote two of the nine Atari Video Computer System launch titles: Blackjack and Star Ship. After leaving Atari, he cofounded third party video game developer Activision, then Accolade. He left the video game industry in the mid-1980s.
Garry Kitchen is a video game designer, programmer, and executive best known for developing games for the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as co-founding Absolute Entertainment with ex-Activision developers. His port of Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600 was a major hit for Coleco, selling over a million copies. His other 2600 work includes Keystone Kapers and Pressure Cooker for Activision and Space Jockey for US Games. He also wrote Garry Kitchen's Gamemaker and The Designer's Pencil for the Commodore 64.
The Activision Decathlon is a sports game written by David Crane for the Atari 2600 and published by Activision in 1983. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, and MSX. Up to four players compete in the ten different events of a real-life decathlon, either in sequence or individually.
Carol Shaw is one of the first female game designers and programmers in the video game industry. She is best known for creating the Atari 2600 vertically scrolling shooter River Raid (1982) for Activision. She worked for Atari, Inc. from 1978-1980 where she designed multiple games including 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe (1978) and Video Checkers (1980), both for the Atari 2600. She left game development in 1984 and retired in 1990.
Video Chess is a chess game for the Atari 2600 programmed by Larry Wagner and Bob Whitehead and released by Atari in 1979. Both programmers later developed games for Activision.
MicroGraphicImage was a computer software company that produced games in the early eighties, predominantly for use on Atari hardware, notably the game Spelunker.
Absolute Entertainment was an American video game publishing company. Through its development house, Imagineering, Absolute Entertainment produced titles for the Amiga, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega CD, Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game consoles, as well as for the PC.