Joseph Warren Robinett Jr.
December 25, 1951
|Alma mater||Rice University|
|Occupation||Interactive computer graphics software designer|
|Known for||Adventure (Atari 2600)|
Rocky's Boots (Apple II)
Joseph Warren Robinett Jr. (born December 25, 1951) is a designer of interactive computer graphics software, notable as the developer of the Atari 2600's Adventure — the first graphical adventure video game — and as a founder of The Learning Company, where he designed Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey. More recently he has worked on virtual reality projects.
Robinett graduated in 1974 with a B.A. from Rice University, with a major in "Computer Applications to Language and Art". After graduating from Rice University, he was a Fortran programmer for Western Geophysical in Houston, Texas. He received an M.S. from University of California, Berkeley in 1976, and went to work at Atari, Inc. in November 1977.
His first effort at Atari was Slot Racers for the Atari 2600. While he was working on it, he had discovered and played Crowther and Woods' Colossal Cave Adventure at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and decided that a graphical video game version "would be really cool". However, with 128 bytes of RAM and 4096 bytes of ROM, Atari's Adventure was a much simpler program, and with only a joystick for input, the set of "commands" was necessarily brief. Adventure was a hit upon its 1979 release, and it eventually sold a million copies.
Atari designers at the time were not given credit for their games, because Atari feared having to bargain with well-known designers. In response to this, Robinett placed a hidden object in the game that would allow the player to reach a hidden screen which displayed the words "Created by Warren Robinett," hence creating one of the earliest known Easter eggs in a video game, and the first to which the name "Easter egg" was applied.
The Learning Company and later
He founded The Learning Company in 1980, and he worked on several educational games there, including Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey for the Apple II. The Learning Company was acquired by Softkey in 1995 for US$606 million.
In 2016, Robinett announced The Annotated Adventure, a book describing the design and implementation of Adventure for the Atari 2600. In 2018 Robinett stated that the initial book was being split into two books: The Annotated Adventure focusing on the technical aspect of the game and Making the Dragon focusing on the political story. As of October 2022, the manuscripts for both books are completed but still under revision.
- Robinett, Warren (1998). "Warren Robinett Interview: A. Merrill's Talks to the Programmer of "Adventure" for the Atari 2600". Authur's Hall (Interview: transcript). Interviewed by A. Merrill. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved 2008-10-28. In the A. Miller interview, Robinett says he was 26 in November 1977.
- Robinett, Warren (13 May 2003). "Of Dragons and Easter Eggs: A Chat With Warren Robinett" (Interview). Interviewed by Joey Connelly. The Jaded Gamer. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
- Hague, James, ed. (June 2002) . "Warren Robinett Interview". Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Games Programmers (Free web ed.). Dadgum Games. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- "Atari devs dissect Yars' Revenge, Adventure, Atari's woes". 14 March 2015.
- Fisher, Lawrence M. (8 December 1995). "Softkey Reaches Agreement to Buy Learning Company". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Robinett, Warren. "Book: The Annotated Adventure (Table of Contents)". warrenrobinett.com.
- Plante, Corey (28 March 2018). "That Atari 'Adventure' Easter Egg in 'Ready Player One' Exists IRL". Inverse. Retrieved 4 December 2018.