Rob Fulop

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Rob Fulop
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Known forMissile Command (Atari 2600)
Demon Attack (Atari 2600)
Night Trap (Sega CD)

Rob Fulop is an American game programmer who created two of the Atari 2600's biggest hits: the port of arcade game Missile Command and 1982's Demon Attack, which won Electronic Games' Game of the Year award. While at Atari, Fulop also ported Night Driver to the 2600 and Space Invaders to the Atari 8-bit family.

Early life[edit]

Fulop grew up in Oakland, California where was first introduced to computers via a teletype in Skyline High School in 1974, which he used to create simple programs in BASIC such as a coin flipper and a game similar to Nim. His experience with the device inspired him to pursue a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.[1]


Atari (1978-1981)[edit]

While studying in university, Fulop got an internship in Atari's coin-op division where he worked on sound design for a Superman pinball machine and developed an editor to be used for generating sound effects for other pinball machines.

After graduating Fulop went back to Atari, he was hired to work in the company's home division where he created arcade ports for Atari's newly released 2600 console as well as the company's family of 8-bit computers.[1][2][3]

After creating the Atari 8-bit port of Space Invaders, which was criticized due to its changing of certain elements of the arcade original, such as the removal of shields, Fulop developed a port of Missile Command for the Atari 2600, which was commercial success, selling over 2.5 million copies. As a christmas bonus that year, he only received a coupon for a free turkey. Chagrined by the feeling of being unappreciated by Atari for his work on the game, Fulop decided to leave the company.[1][3]

Imagic (1981-1983)[edit]

On 17 July 1981, a group of employees from Atari's home console division including Fulop quit their jobs to form their own company, Imagic, urged on by the success of the ex-Atari employees who formed Activision and the lack of credit they were receiving for their work at Atari. Fulop developed the studio's debut game, Demon Attack, which went on to become one of the best selling 2600 games of all time.[4]

After finishing working on Cosmic Ark in 1982, Fulop traveled to Hungary to visit relatives. During his visit he met Erno Rubik, the creator of the Rubik's Cube, which inspired him to create a two-player puzzle game as he felt the genre was under-represented at the time. In six weeks, he'd designed CubiColor; however, Imagic decided against publishing the game due to their belief that a puzzle game wouldn't sell well enough. Fulop later released the game via newsletters. About 100 copies are known to exist.[5]

Shortly before Imagic was set to go public, the Video Game Crash of 1983 occurred, causing the company to withdraw its IPO. Fulop left the company soon after.[1]

Post-Video Game Crash Career (1983-1998)[edit]

After a brief stint doing freelance development for Parker Brothers, Fulop started work on a game called Actionauts for the 2600 independently. The game, which was about programming a tiny robot so that it would be capable of navigating itself out of a maze, had its development shifted to the Commodore 64 due to the dwindling popularity of the 2600 and the game concept being more suitable for a computer rather than a console. He got a development deal from Simon & Schuster to publish the game; however, they left the software business before the project could be realized. Fulop then decided to release the game as freeware via a bulletin board players could connect to in order to download the game. Commodore was excited by the manner in which the game was being released, so they decided to publish an article about the game which included the bulletin board's phone number, but a different number was mistakenly printed in the article, leading to thousands of calls being placed to the wrong number.[1][2][6]

Fulop was later hired by Nolan Bushnell's company Axlon as part of their NEMO team, Fulop created Night Trap for the system, however, due to the console's cancellation the game was shelved and later released on the Sega CD.[7] The game famously caused controversy upon its release due to its portrayal of violence against women, and was heavily criticized in the 1993 congressional hearings on video games alongside Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers, this, alongside negative reactions from his friends and family, caused Fulop to be concerned about the messages video games were sending out to children, this, in turn, inspired Fulop's next game, which he decided would be so cute and "sissy" that no one could claim had a harmful effect on youth. The end result was 1995's Dogz: Your computer Pet, which was released by PF Magic, a company he co-founded. The game proved to be popular and kickstarted the Petz franchise of pet simulation video games.[8]

Fulton later created Max Magic for the Philips CD-I, the game consisted of a fortune teller and magician who would perform magic tricks with the aid the player, who'd presumably use it to perform a magic show, Fulop worked with Max Maven on the game, who authored the tricks and recorded some of the voices.[9]

PF Magic was acquired by The Learning Company in May 1998.[10] and in March 2001, Ubisoft acquired the entertainment division of The Learning Company, and with it the rights to the Petz franchise.[11]

Zynga (2008)[edit]

In August 2008, Fulop joined American social game developer Zynga as an independent contractor until September, when he became a full time employee.

In October, Fulop, who had previously suffered from a heart attack in 2005, began experiencing chest pains and had to have a heart operation, he informed his team leader that he would need some time off to undergo the operation; Fulop was terminated from the team nine days later and from the company altogether soon after the operation, he sued the company for violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act alleging that it had discriminated against him on the basis of age and disability.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Fulop plays poker semi-professionally, competing in various high limit poker games in northern California. In January 2004, Fulop went to Las Vegas to visit Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak, while there, he wrote a humorous guest column for Bluff, a poker magazine, about his trip there and his stay at Esfandiari's house, the piece was well received, leading to Fulop writing a semi-regular column for the magazine.[13][14]

Fulop is an amateur Jazz and Ragtime pianist;[1] in 2015, he joined the indie rock band Bourbon Therapy, based out of Oakland, California, as the pianist/keyboardist. Bourbon Therapy released their second album, Hymnals and Hangovers, featuring Fulop on piano and keyboard, on September 9, 2016.[15] As of 2020, Fulop is no longer a member of this band.[16] Rob married his wife, Becky Fulop, in 2016.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g paleotronic (2019-03-29). "An Interview with Atari 2600 developer and Imagic Co-Founder Rob Fulop". Paleotronic Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  2. ^ a b "Atari Compendium". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  3. ^ a b "Good Deal Games - Classic Videogame Games INTERVIEW - Rob Fulop". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  4. ^ Donovan, Tristan. (2010). Replay : the history of video games. East Sussex, England: Yellow Ant. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-9565072-0-4. OCLC 639031262.
  5. ^ "Atari Compendium". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  6. ^ "Untitled Document". Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  7. ^ Donovan, Tristan. (2010). Replay : the history of video games. East Sussex, England: Yellow Ant. pp. 335, 336, 409. ISBN 978-0-9565072-0-4. OCLC 639031262.
  8. ^ Donovan, Tristan. (2010). Replay : the history of video games. East Sussex, England: Yellow Ant. pp. 416–419. ISBN 978-0-9565072-0-4. OCLC 639031262.
  9. ^ "Rob Fulop (Atari) - Interview". Arcade Attack. 2017-03-24. Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  10. ^ "Learning Co. to acquire PF. Magic". Cnet. 1998-05-07. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  11. ^ Dubin, Jayson (2012-05-04). "Ubi Soft Acquires The Learning Company's Entertainment Division". GameZone. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  12. ^ "Ex-Employee Sues Zynga For Discrimination, Wrongful Termination". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  13. ^ "Untitled Document". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  14. ^ Carlson, Peter (2005-05-10). "Poker Periodicals: How to Hold 'Em". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  15. ^ "Hymnals and Hangovers, by Bourbon Therapy".
  16. ^ "Bourbon Therapy - BT Bio".

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