Owen Rubin is everywhere

I ran out of books to read. Okay, I did not run out, just nothing really sounded good to me when I was last at our public library. I don’t usually get books at the library, but nothing at the bookstore looked interesting to read, either.

At times like this, I usually go back to my older books, thinking something I have already read sounds worthy of another read. (I keep meaning to go back and re-read the entire Robert Jordan series, but each book is so long, and I have eleven of them, that the commitment just seems too much right now.) So while I was looking through all the books on my bookshelf in the basement, one book feel into my lap. Literally. The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven K. Kent. I reviewed the book here two years ago and gave it a five out of five rating. It still lives up to that billing.

Anyway, reading through the book, I happen across mention of Owen Rubin. Yup, MyMac.com’s own Owen Ruben. See, besides working for Apple, Owen also worked at Atari in the Golden Age of video games as a Coin-Op Engineer. It was Owen who wrote the code in Battlezone that made the volcano active. Yeah, I know most of you don’t understand what that means, but I do. I remember reading this passage two years ago, and how Ed Rotberg was telling the tale that he worked in the same lap with Owen, and everyday Owen would come in and ask “When are you going to make the Volcano active?” Over and over, until Ed snapped and said, “Look, I’m trying to make a game here. If you want the volcano active, write the damn code yourself.” And, of course, that is just what Owen did.

The thing is, that small story stayed with me. Not the names, just the story. When I saw an actual Battlezone game at a local Pizza parlor a week ago, the story came back to me. In my head I could hear someone asking over and over again “When are you going to make the volcano active?” and got a chuckle.

I read that book in December 2002, and the review was posted in January 2003. A year later, who else but Owen Rubin would actually start writing here at MyMac? And you know what? His name did not come back to me then. I had no idea it was the same person from the story I remembered in the book a year before.

To top it off, I was doing some research about a faux-documentary about the Atari coin-op division at Atari, remembering the story I read about it in the book I am reading now. I did not find it online, but while reading this book and coming across the story once again, you will never guess who the book credits as narrator? Okay, if you said Owen Rubin, you would be correct.

Man, this guy is everywhere!

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