To be clear, I am not questioning that Steve Jobs spent a while working for Atari; that much is indubitably historical fact. Apparently he joined the company in 1974.

Atari was founded in the summer of 1972. According to https://www.landley.net/history/mirror/atari/museum/Atari-Timeline.html by 1974, the company had not only made tens of thousands of Pong machines, but also developed a number of other games, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

According to other sources, Atari's hiring process was at least in the early days not very selective, and they had a lot of trouble with theft, which presumably led to firings, so if employee number 40 were hired in 1974, that would mean the current employee count at that time would be significantly lower.

Did they really accomplish all that with so few employees?

  • 2
    Where are you seeing the claim that he was employee number 40? That might give some context for what "employee number" means, and how it relates to the employee count and hiring practices.
    – IMSoP
    Nov 6, 2020 at 12:40
  • 1
    Note there's a difference between "was the 40th employee hired" and "was assigned employee number 40".
    – fadden
    Nov 6, 2020 at 16:07
  • @IMSoP e.g. gamasutra.com/view/news/127537/… but I think fadden et al are right, the employee numbers were not assigned in consecutive order.
    – rwallace
    Nov 7, 2020 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


Employee #159, Ronald Jardine, was hired on 1973-10-07. If Steve Jobs was hired by Atari in May, 1974, and if employee numbers were assigned in consecutive numerical order and never reused, then he should have had a higher employee number.

  • 1
    How do you know that the employee numbers are assigned in numerical order?
    – OmarL
    Nov 6, 2020 at 10:41
  • 3
    @OmarL He probably doesn't know, but it's a reasonable assumption to make - The same assumption that was actually taken in the question. You should probably put your comment there?
    – tofro
    Nov 6, 2020 at 11:42
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    There is nothing to say that employee numbers are assigned in order, nor that they might be reused when someone has left the company. They might have different series of numbers depending on what office or apartment you were hired at, for instance.
    – UncleBod
    Nov 6, 2020 at 11:55
  • 2
    Thanks @OmarL and UncleBod, I've added those assumptions to my answer. Nov 6, 2020 at 23:42

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