Before Sid Meier was Sid Meier—the iconic video game designer whose name is stamped on classic titles like Pirates! and Civilization—he was just another computer hacker. In the early 80s, the then-20-something programmer had a job at a company called General Instruments Corporation, where he worked alongside a gruff Air Force pilot-turned-businessman named John “Wild Bill” Stealey. Meier, who had graduated with a degree in computer science before there was a personal computer in every home, spent his spare time reading hacker magazines, fiddling with code on his Atari, and building his own versions of arcade games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man. At one point he made a space game and put it up on his office network; it hooked so many employees that his bosses forced him to take it down. One year, as Stealey recalls, the two men went to an electronics trade conference. On the second night of the show, they stumbled upon a bunch of arcade games in a basement. One by one, Meier beat Stealey at each of them. Then they found Atari’s Red Baron, a squiggly flight game in which you’d steer a biplane through abstract outlines of terrain and obstacles. Stealey, the Air… Read full this story
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