E282: Nolan Bushnell of Brainrush – TWiST



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Today on TWiST, we welcomed a true legend to the broadcast: Nolan Bushnell. Nolan is know for many things, including founding Atari, being Steve Jobs’ boss, starting the restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese’s and, most recently, creating the educational startup Brainrush.

1:30 We have the famous founder of Atari, Chuck E. Cheese and more on the program today–Nolan Bushnell.
2:00 Thank you to our incredible sponsor Sourcebits! Everyone check out sourcebits.com and thank @sourcebits for their support!
4:30 Nolan, welcome to the program. Do you have people wanting to hug you for inventing the Atari 2600?
5:15 When did the first console come out?
7:15 What was Steve Jobs biggest gift?
9:15 What impresses you the most about Jobs’ second act with Apple?
12:00 Do you think we’ll have brain connections to computers in our lifetime?
14:30 Do you ever regret selling Atari so early?
17:00 Tell me about your newest venture, Brainrush.
18:30 What do you call this new learning genre?
20:30 Nolan: Our goal was: easy to learn, impossible to master.
23:30 Thank you to Squarespace for partnering with us to support the show! Everyone use the code TWiST8 to get 10% off when signing up.
26:30 Let’s talk about the current state of education in the US. Why is this such a major focus for us right now?
29:45 Higher education is a huge fraud, isn’t it?
31:15 What does your ideal educational world look like?
36:15 How do you respond to the criticism that it’s rote learning?
38:00 What do you think of the US as a country today vs when you started out as an entrepreneur?
40:15 What’s going to happen to universities like Harvard?
42:00 What happens to teachers who aren’t in the top tier?
42:45 Nolan: I think universities still need to exist for the social interactions.
45:00 What are your thoughts on employment?
49:15 How did Chuck E. Cheese’s end up doing?
52:15 What’s it like to walk into a VC’s office and a 27 year old is behind the desk?
52:45 Nolan: The VC community is run on fear and greed.
55:45 Question from the audience: Are grades necessary or do they distract from learning?
58:00 Question from the audience: What role does social interaction play in education?
59:00 Nolan, this has been so amazing having you on the program. Everyone Google “scrambles;” it’s an encryption service for social media.
1:01:00 Thank you to our friends at Sourcebits and Squarespace.
1:04:30 Nolan: On the God question, I don’t know. I think there are powers that be in the universe that we don’t fully understand.
1:05:45 What was your favorite decade?
1:07:30 How old do you think people can live now with all of the advancements?
1:09:45 What do you think about dictators?
1:11:15 Is self-sustaining energy possible in our lifetime?
1:13:15 Thanks for watching everyone, we’ll see you next time.

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Jason: @jason
Nolan: @nolanbushnell
Squarespace: @squarespace
Sourcebits: @sourcebits

Special thanks to the members of the TWiST Backchannel Program!

Executive Producers


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  • Brad Pineau
  • Kat Ganesan
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  • Jim Shute


  • Ryan Hoover
  • Michael Cranston
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  • Dale Emmons
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  • Kasper Andkjaer
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