Skip to content

Trip Hawkins, MBA '78

Founder of Electronic Arts, 3DO and Digital Chocolate

Jude Buffum

An excerpt appeared in the print version of Stanford.

First video game experience:

“My father in the 1970s had worked in San Diego with a brilliant engineer named Lane Hauck who later made arcade games. (He invented the game mechanic, initially called Blockade, that was the basis for Snake and other clones.) Around 1971 Lane bought a PDP-8 kit and built it at home. It was a box about the size of a bureau drawer, with red lights and switches and was connected to a KSR-33 printer, the kind then used in newsrooms (like a ticker, only bigger) with the rolls of yellow paper, and it could pound out 10 characters per second. (I can hear the chugging sound even now.)

Lane built a game called MOO, similar to what later emerged as a board game called Mastermind, where you try to guess a four-digit number. You would enter a four-digit guess on the KSR-33 keyboard and it would then tell you how many moos and cows you had. A cow was the right digit in the wrong place; a moo was the right digit in the right place. On one round of the game I got the answer in three turns and Lane was upset, he didn’t think that was possible and thought I’d only made a lucky guess. Of course I already knew I loved games and was already interested in computers and was already making board games. (I had designed my first commercial board game—Accu-Stat Pro Football—in 1970 and published it in 1973.) Playing on Lane’s PDP-8 kit was a key event on my road to determining by 1975 that I was going to make computer games and found my own company.

Yes, I decided in the summer of 1975 that I would found EA in 1982. And as they say, the rest is history.”

Favorite video game:

Doctor J and Larry Bird Go One-on-One. This was my baby, the first commercial sports game from EA, published in October 1983 on the Apple II and appearing on many other platforms over the years. It was arguably EA’s first true ‘hit’ because it got to the No. 2 rank on the Apple SoftDisk game chart and then went big on every other platform. It was the first video game in which a celebrity appeared as a character, which began a huge trend of its own in addition to the birth of EA Sports.

I did everything for this game—I designed it, down to the last details including the touch controls and the janitor sweeping up after you broke the backboard with a [Darryl] Dawkins-caliber slam dunk. I produced it. I hired, set the compensation and closely managed every person that worked on it. I made the deals with Erving and Bird, the first of their kind. The success of this game then spurred me to take on the bigger challenge of 11-on-11 football, my personal dream, which became Madden Football. Even by today’s standards in terms of technology, graphics and UI, the One-on-One game would be considered a classic and would be just as fun today as then.”

Comments (0)

  • Be the first one to add a comment. You must log in to comment.


Your Rating
Average Rating



Be the first one to tag this!