Carol Shaw (1955- ) is an American game designer and programmer. She is best known for creating the best-selling Atari 2600 game River Raid (1982).
Shaw became interested in electronics at an early age. During high school, she learned how to program in BASIC and pursued a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. While obtaining her Master’s degree in Computer Science (also at UC Berkeley), Shaw was hired by Atari, Inc. as a microprocessor software engineer. In 1978, she produced what is possibly the first documented game designed and programmed by a woman —an unreleased game called Polo (later was distributed on a CD-ROM compilation in 1996). When designing video games, Shaw and her colleagues in the Home Computer Division at Atari would draw graphics on graph paper, then hand-code it into the correct hex values on the computer screen. Shaw also hand-wrote her code on paper and later typed it in, since there were no sufficient editing programs at the time.
Shaw developed several games and software programs while at Atari from 1978-1980. She went on to work for Tandem Computers before joining Activision in 1982. Shaw created the popular game River Raid for the Atari 2600 while at Activision in 1982. This top-down scrolling shooter game sold more than a million cartridges and won multiple awards. (River Raid was later ported across other home console platforms.) Shaw also programmed the puzzle game Happy Trails for the Mattel Intellivision in 1983. She left Activision in 1984 to return to Tandem Computers, where Shaw worked for six more years until she retired in 1990.