David Crane (programmer)

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David Crane
David Crane (10453626776).jpg
David Crane, 2013
Born1953 (age 69–70)
Occupation(s)Game designer
Game programmer
Employer(s)Atari, Inc.
Known forCo-founder of Skyworks Interactive and Audacity Games.
Notable workPitfall!
Little Computer People
A Boy and His Blob

David Patrick Crane (born 1953 in Nappanee, Indiana, United States) is an American video game designer and programmer.[1]

Crane originally worked in the field of hardware design for National Semiconductor.[2] He went to college at DeVry Institute of Technology in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology degree in 1975. Crane started his programming career at Atari, making games for the Atari 2600. He also worked on the operating system for the Atari 800 computer.[2] After meeting co-worker Alan Miller in a tennis game, Miller told Crane about a plan he had to leave Atari and found a company that would give game designers more recognition. From this meeting, Crane left Atari in 1979 and co-founded Activision, along with Miller, Jim Levy, Bob Whitehead, and Larry Kaplan. His games won many awards while he was at Activision. At Activision, he was best known as the designer of Pitfall!.[3] Pitfall! was a huge hit; it maintained the top slot on the Billboard charts for 64 weeks and was named video game of the year in 1982.[4] Over four million copies of the game were sold in the 1980s.[5] It was the second best-selling game for the Atari 2600 after Pac-Man.[6]

Crane maintained that the Atari policy of relying on mangled adaptations of arcade games would result in a glut of cheap, unappealing games, which became one of the contributing factors to the video game crash of 1983. He believed instead that tailoring new games to the strengths and weaknesses of the 2600 machine would have yielded positive results. The reasoning was that while the new games would have lacked the instant-promotion of an already-known name, word of mouth among video gamers, being a young and highly-social group, would have gradually made up for it if the game was good.[citation needed]

Crane said that he left because the newly appointed CEO of Activision, Bruce Davis, offered a pay cut with the promise of a vaguely worded incentive program.[7] Although Absolute was based in New Jersey, Crane did all of his programming at his home in California. With Absolute, he was known for David Crane's Amazing Tennis and A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, a successful NES title following the adventures of the protagonist and his companion, a shape-shifting blob creature. In 1995, Absolute Entertainment was dissolved.[citation needed]

In 1995, Crane co-founded Skyworks Technologies as the organization's Chief Technical Officer.

In 2012, Crane launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a game called Jungle Adventure.[6] The goal was not reached.[8]

Crane, along with Garry Kitchen and his brother Dan, founded Audacity Games in November 2020 to develop Atari 2600 games to be played on retro consoles. They plan to release these games as both physical copies alongside digital versions that are emulator-friendly.[9] The first title, Circus Convoy, a collaboration between Crane and Garry Kitchen, went on sale March 13, 2021.[10]


Year Title Credits Publisher System
1978 Boggle (unreleased) Programmer Atari, Inc. Atari 2600
1979 Canyon Bomber
Slot Machine
1980 Dragster Designer Activision
Fishing Derby
1981 Laser Blast
Grand Prix
Kaboom! Graphics
1982 Pitfall! Designer, programmer
1983 The Activision Decathlon
The Activision Decathlon Designer Atari 5200
1984 Pitfall II: Lost Caverns Designer, programmer, audio Atari 2600
Pitfall! Designer Atari 5200
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Ghostbusters Designer, programmer Commodore 64
1985 Little Computer People
1986 Transformers: The Battle to Save the Earth Designer Commodore 64
1987 Skate Boardin' Designer, programmer Atari 2600
1988 Super Skate Boardin' Atari 7800
1989 A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia Absolute Entertainment NES
1990 The Rescue of Princess Blobette Game Boy
1991 The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants Programmer NES
The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World Designer
Space Shuttle Project Voice
Bart Simpson's Escape from Camp Deadly Programmer Game Boy
1992 David Crane's Amazing Tennis Designer, programmer
Night Trap Programmer Digital Pictures Sega CD
1993 Toys Designer, producer Absolute Entertainment SNES
1994 Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! Designer
1996 SPQR: The Empire's Darkest Hour Advice GT Interactive Windows
1997 Klondike Designer Sega Sega Channel
2021 Circus Convoy Designer, programmer Audacity Games Atari 2600


  1. ^ Covert, Colin. "Meet David Crane: Video Games Guru". Atari Magazine. Atari Magazine. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Good Deal Games - Classic Videogame Games INTERVIEW - David Crane". Gooddealgames.com. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  3. ^ Kohler, Chris (27 January 2010). "Pitfall! creator David Crane named videogame pioneer". Wired. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Alumnus Profile". DeVry University. DeVry University. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  5. ^ "PRGE Speakers and Special Guests". Retrogamingexpo.com. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b Acuna, Kirsten. "7 Things We Learned From Activision Co-Founder David Crane's Reddit AMA". Business Insider. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  7. ^ Donovan, Tristan (2009-07-08). "Gamasutra - The Replay Interviews: David Crane". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  8. ^ "David Crane's Jungle Adventure". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  9. ^ Gurwin, Gabe (March 7, 2021). "Ex-Activision Pioneers Form Audacity Games, Will Develop New Atari 2600 Titles". GameSpot. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  10. ^ "Circus Convoy is a New Atari 2600 Game from Audacity Games". TechRaptor. Retrieved 2021-03-16.

External links[edit]

Media related to David Crane (programmer) at Wikimedia Commons