Carol Shaw (video game designer)

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Originally an Atari employee, Carol Shaw is said to be the first female video game designer (for her unreleased Polo game in 1978,[1] and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe game in 1979). Later she joined Activision, where she programmed her best-known game, River Raid. [2] According to the manual of River Raid, she is also a “scholar in the field of Computer Science.” With Keith Brewster she worked on the Atari Basic Reference Manual.[3]

Carol Shaw left Activision in 1984 after designing Happy Trails for the Intellivision and River Raid for the Atari 800 and Atari 5200. Her other credits include Checkers in 1981 and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe in 1980 for the Atari 2600. She also worked on Super Breakout. Shaw lives in California, and is now retired and married to Ralph Merkle, a researcher in nanotechnology.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1955, Shaw was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. Her father was a mechanical engineer and worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Shaw first became interested in computers in high school when she used a computer for the first time and discovered she could play text-based games on the system. Shaw attended UC Berkeley and graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1977. She went on to complete a master's degree in Computer Science at Berkeley.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ VC&G Interview: Carol Shaw, Female Video Game Pioneer, interview by Benj Edwards.
  2. ^ Atari: 2600: River Raid. The Internet Archive Software Collection. ret. Mar 2014.
  3. ^ Atari BASIC and PET Microsoft BASIC. A BASIC Comparison by Joretta Klepfer cites the draft as a source.
  4. ^ My wife is Carol Shaw., Ralph C. Merkle

External links[edit]