This issue's star employee has been with Atari longer than there's been an Atari. When the company celebrated its tenth anniversary on June 27, Cynthia Russell celebrated ten years and one day of service at Atari, and she's only 27 years old.
Cynthia has the longest service record of any employee at Atari. If Atari badges had been assigned in sequence, hers would be #4 (Nolan Bushnell's was #1). Because of coding procedures, however, her badge number is 254.
How did Cynthia get in on the ground floor of Atari? "I used to baby-sit for Nolan Bushnell's children," she explains. "A week after I graduated from high school, he asked me if I wanted a job as his receptionist."
She took the job, but, "I got bored after a couple of months. They weren't giving me much work to do, so I asked if I could work part-time while I went to college full-time." The PONG business was booming, and Bushnell said no. "So, I quit," says Cynthia. "But a week later he called me up and said, 'Okay.'"
Cynthia was taught to wire-wrap, which involves manually connecting circuitry from point to point on a test board with wire. "They even let me wire-wrap the first PONG game," she boasts.
Since then, Cynthia has done a little bit of everything at Atari, including game programming and research and development. Today, she is a senior computer operator for the Home Computer Division. She's responsible for the operation of two computers that aid in the development of ATARI computer software.
And lately, she's been working part-time again as a babysitter. But this time it's for her three-month-old daughter, Anne.
Cynthia has seen the company grow and succeed beyond her wildest imaginings. Her only regret is that Atari's gotten so big that it's hard for her to get together with old friends scattered among the divisions. A special salute to Cynthia Russell on her, and Atari's, tenth anniversary.