“I feel fairly confident that by the year 2000, 50 percent of all pets will be electronic.”Nolan K. Bushnell, inventor of the Petster line McCoy, Elin. “Toy Pets vs. The Real Thing.” The New York Times, December 15th, 1986, Section C, Page 16.
I really admire the 1980s optimism. 🙂 Mr. Bushnell’s predictions didn’t come true, and kinda seem silly to us 30+ years later, but were they, anyhow?
Nolan K. Bushnell
If Nolan Bushnell sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason. He’s the guy that wrote Pong, the first commercially successful video game, and started Atari. He also went on to found Chuck E Cheese.
In the early 1980’s he started a company called Axlon. Axlon made several high-tech toys, including some robots that were intended to simulate (and hopefully replace!) real pets.
“I’ll bet you money,” he says. “We will change the market for domestic animals.” He goes on to say, “we’re not trying to knock off the cat, but a Petster is fundamentally better than a cat.”Nolan K Bushnell Bermant, Charles. “From Pong to Petsters: Bushnell Keeps on Trying.” PC Magazine, April 30th, 1985, Page 63.
I’m a huge fan of the Petster line, but I disagree pretty strongly that “a Petster is fundamentally better thank a cat.” 🙂
There’s an emotional connection that humans make to their pets. Pets love to be snuggled, know when we’re feeling bad, do tricks, and eventually came to rule the Internet. (Well, at least cats did!)
“I’ve had a Petster in my office for about four months, and I’ve really gotten used to it,” says Atari-founder-turned-electronic-pet-entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell. “And I like it. It’s kind of soothing or reassuring or whatever to work late and have this little critter running around just like a dog or cat.”Nolan Bushnell “Bushnell’s Pet Project.” Computer Entertainment, June 1985, Page 8.
Yeah, it’s true that it’s nice to have something running around. It does feel nice. But pets are so much more than just noise boxes that run around meowing.
Axlon didn’t last very long. The Petster line was made in 1985 and 1986, and the company was sold to Hasbro in July, 1986.“Hasbro agreed to market toys by Bushnell’s firm.“ Los Angeles Times, July 11th, 1986.
|↑1||McCoy, Elin. “Toy Pets vs. The Real Thing.” The New York Times, December 15th, 1986, Section C, Page 16.|
|↑2||Bermant, Charles. “From Pong to Petsters: Bushnell Keeps on Trying.” PC Magazine, April 30th, 1985, Page 63.|
|↑3||“Bushnell’s Pet Project.” Computer Entertainment, June 1985, Page 8.|
|↑4||“Hasbro agreed to market toys by Bushnell’s firm.“ Los Angeles Times, July 11th, 1986.|