SAN FRANCISCO —
He advertised job openings at Atari with taglines such as, "Confusing work with play every day" and "Work harder at having fun than ever before." When job applicants came in for interviews, he would ask brain-teasing questions such as: "What is a mole?"; "Why do tracks run counter-clockwise?" and "What is the order of these numbers: 8, 5, 4, 9, 1, 7, 6, 3, 2?"
Bushnell hadn't been attracting much attention in recent years until Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography on Jobs came out in 2011, just after Jobs' death. It reminded readers of Bushnell's early ties to the man behind the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Suddenly, everyone was asking Bushnell about what it was like to be Jobs' first boss. Publisher Tim Sanders of Net Minds persuaded him to write a book linked to Jobs, even though Bushnell had already finished writing a science fiction novel about a video game hatched through nanotechnology in 2071.
"The idea is to become a best-selling author first and then the rest of my books will be slam dunks," Bushnell said. To get his literary career rolling, Bushnell relied on veteran ghostwriter Gene Stone, who also has written other books, including "Forks Over Knives," under his own name.
Bushnell's book doesn't provide intimate details about what Jobs was like after he dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Ore., and went to work as a technician in 1974 at Atari in Los Gatos, Calif. He had two stints there, sandwiched around a trip to India. During his second stint at Atari, in 1975, Jobs worked on a "Pong" knock-off called "Breakout" with the help of his longtime friend Wozniak, who did most of the engineering work on the video game, even though he wasn't being paid by Atari. Jobs left Atari for good in 1976 when he co-founded Apple with Wozniak, who had been designing engineering calculators at Hewlett-Packard Co.