Dona Bailey

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Dona Bailey co-created the arcade video game Centipede in 1981.

Dona Bailey is an American video game programmer and educator who, along with Ed Logg in 1981, created the arcade video game Centipede.[1][2]



Dona Bailey graduated high school early and started attending the University of Arkansas at Little Rock at the age of 16. She accelerated her education by taking classes year-round and in the summer, and by the age of 19, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology with three minors in English, Math and Biology. She continued her education further by earning a master's degree in Math.[3] As a young programmer, Bailey was hired by General Motors and trained in assembly language programming. She worked there for two years on displays,[4] and microprocessor-based cruise control systems.[5] Bailey's first exposure to video games came from when she first heard the song "Space Invader" by The Pretenders. A friend told her the song was inspired by the arcade video game Space Invaders. After becoming interested in what a video game was, her friend took her to a nearby bar which had a Space Invaders arcade cabinet. Bailey noticed that the display on Space Invaders resembled the display she worked with on the Cadillac at GM.[6] She found out that Atari was using the same microprocessor in its games.[2]


In 1980, Bailey joined Atari's coin-op division, where she was the only woman.[5] In an interview Bailey recalled that Atari had a notebook of possible game ideas at the time. Of the 30 or so entries the only one without "lasering or frying things" was a short description of a bug winding down the screen. "It didn't seem bad to shoot a bug".[7] Within a four-person team, she became the software developer and software engineer on Centipede.[2][6]

Recent Years[edit]

Bailey left Atari in 1982 and went to work at Videa (later renamed Sente Technologies), founded by three former Atari employees.[1] In 2007, she was the keynote speaker at the Women in Games International Conference.[4] In 2008, Bailey taught as a faculty member in the department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock[8] until her retirement. Bailey wrote a screenplay titled Sunnyvale based on her experiences at Atari as a programmer on Centipede.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Krueger, Anne (March 1983). "Welcome to the Club". Video Games. 1 (6): 51–54, 81. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Ortutay, Barbara (30 June 2012). "Woman behind 'Centipede' recalls game icon's birth". Yahoo! Finance. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Dona Bailey". atariwomen. 2019-03-08. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  4. ^ a b Alexander, Leigh (27 August 2007). "The Original Gaming Bug: 'Centipede' Creator Dona Bailey". Gamasutra. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world. Prima. pp. 160–162. ISBN 978-0-7615-3643-7.
  6. ^ a b "The Unsung Female Programmer Behind Atari's Centipede". VICE. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  7. ^ Ortutay, Barbara (29 June 2012). "Iconic Atari turns 40, tries to stay relevant". Yahoo! News. Associated Press.
  8. ^ "Faculty - Department of Rhetoric and Writing". University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Dona Bailey (@dona_c_bailey) | Twitter". Retrieved 2019-10-31.

Further reading[edit]

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