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).[2] Shaw's official job title at Atari was Microprocessor Software Engineer.[3] Later she joined Activision, where she programmed her best-known game, River Raid.[4] 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.[5]

She left Atari in 1980 to work for Tandem Computers. After 16 months she was contacted by an employee of Activision (possibly Alan Miller) with a job offer which would include stock options. She also attended an interview at Imagic but they did not offer her a position at the company on account of a lack of experience in writing action games. Shaw joined Activision in 1982.[6]

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 Video Checkers in 1981 and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe in 1980 for the Atari 2600. She also worked on Super Breakout.

From 1984-90 Shaw worked at her former employer, Tandem. She took early retirement in 1990 and subsequently did some voluntary work including a position at the Foresight Institute. She has credited the success of River Raid as being a significant factor in enabling her to retire early.[7]

Shaw lives in California and has been married to Ralph Merkle, a researcher in nanotechnology since 1983.[8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1955, Shaw was born and raised in Palo Alto, California.[10] 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 the University of California, 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.[11]

Credits[edit]

Atari 2600[edit]

Intellivision[edit]

  • Happy Trails (Activision, 1983)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ VC&G Interview: Carol Shaw, Female Video Game Pioneer, interview by Benj Edwards.
  2. ^ Suellentrop, Chris (19 August 2014). "Saluting the Women Behind the Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  3. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  4. ^ Atari: 2600: River Raid. The Internet Archive Software Collection. ret. Mar 2014. https://archive.org/details/atari_2600_river_raid_1982_activision_carol_shaw_ax-020_ax-020-04
  5. ^ Atari BASIC and PET Microsoft BASIC. A BASIC Comparison by Joretta Klepfer cites the draft as a source.
  6. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  7. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  8. ^ My wife is Carol Shaw., Ralph C. Merkle
  9. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  10. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  11. ^ http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/800
  12. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-3-d-tic-tac-toe_18106.html Atari Mania - 3D Tic-Tac-Toe Directory Listing
  13. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/3d_tic_tac_toe_color_cart_2.jpg Atari Mania - 3D Tic-Tac-Toe Cartridge
  14. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-polo_14046.html Atari Mania - Polo Directory Listing
  15. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/polo_i.jpg Atari Mania - Polo Cartridge
  16. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-video-checkers_18381.html Atari Mania - Video Checkers Directory Listing
  17. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/video_checkers_color_cart.jpg Atari Mania - Video Checkers Cartridge
  18. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-othello_18288.html Atari Mania - Othello Directory Listing
  19. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/othello_color_cart.jpg Atari Mania - Othello Cartridge
  20. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-river-raid_s6826.html Atari Mania - River Raid Directory Listing
  21. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/river_raid_cart_5.jpg Atari Mania - River Raid Cartridge
  22. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-chess_17436.html Atari Mania - Chess Directory Listing
  23. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/chess_taiwan_cooper_black_cart_2.jpg Atari Mania - Chess Cartridge
  24. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-harbor-escape_8372.html Atari Mania - Harbor Escape Directory Listing
  25. ^ http://www.atarimania.com/2600/boxes/hi_res/harbor_escape_cart_4.jpg Atari Mania - Harbor Escape Cartridge

External links[edit]