Nolan Bushnell Rejoins the Atari Force

Nolan Bushnell, who founded the original Atari Inc. in 1972, has returned to the company masthead as a member of Atari S.A.'s board of directors.

"Original Atari" and "Atari S.A." have to be specified because technically they're not the same company. It's complicated but it all has to do with Infogrames' 2008 acquisition of Atari and making it a wholly-owned subsidiary. But the point is that Bushnell is back with the brand he made world famous, and it's not Chuck E. Cheese.

Bushnell, speaking to Industry Gamers, said his return "kind of is a homecoming.

"I think Atari has made some really nice strides in the last few years," he said, "and I feel like it's the right time and right place," he told us. "I've known [CEO] Jeff Lapin and some of the guys [for quite a while], and I bumped into them a few years ago at E3 and had some dialogue. It just all of a sudden felt natural I think for both sides."

Bushnell said Atari's "really, really cool worldwide brand" creates a lot of opportunities, one of them being a a chance "to revitalize some of the classic Atari games." And we're already seeing some of that in Xbox Live's Game Room.

Update: An Atari S.A. news release about Bushnell's nomination to the board also, in a single sentence at the end, mentioned that Phil Harrison and David Gardner left the board of directors. Harrison, the former Sony Worldwide Studios chief, stepped down as Atari president about a year ago, so this completes his departure from Atari. Gardner had been the company's CEO until December.

Atari's Bushnell Talks About His Homecoming [Industry Gamers]