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David Shepperd papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 118.10908
The David Shepperd papers include a manual for the Altair 8800, handwritten coding notes, circuit schematics, paper tape, source code print outs, and other reference materials with information on circuitry and computer-building. The bulk of the materials are from 1974-1976, predating his formal career in the video game industry. The David Shepperd papers are arranged into two series. The materials are housed in three archival document boxes and one oversized folder.


  • Majority of material found within 1974 - 1976
  • 1974 - 2018

Conditions Governing Access

Due to the nature of the printed source code on perforated, connected printer paper, reference scans of these pages may only be available at the discretion of the library staff; on-site access is freely available. At this time, paper tape is considered to be an artifact only and cannot be scanned or otherwise “read.” Please see The Strong’s Digital Games Files Access Policy.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 1 oversized folder)


The David Sheppard papers include an Altair 8000 manual and schematics, instruction manuals, circuit schematics, handwritten computer coding notes, source code print out, and paper tape. The bulk of the materials are from 1974-1976.

Biographical Note

David Shepperd is an American software professional. Throughout his career, he has worked as a programmer (among other positions) at Atari Games, Tengen, Midway, and Time Warner Interactive. In 1974, Shepperd played Nutting Associates’ Computer Space, the first commercially released video arcade game, and was inspired to design his very own at home. Though his first attempt produced only a single sprite that could simply move around a television screen, he found much more success a year later when Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) released the Altair 8800, one of the first home computers to use a microprocessor. Shepperd purchased a basic kit with 1K of static memory and cobbled together peripherals from previously discarded projects, completing several simple games programmed using banks of switches on the front of the computer. He later connected an electric typewriter keyboard and created two basic controllers with knobs. In 1976, Shepperd saw an advertisement for microprocessor programmers from Atari, and his experience with the Altair 8800 landed him the position. As only the second programmer to be hired, Shepperd worked on a variety of games; his first was the simple baseball game Flyball. Shepperd’s first breakout success came from Night Driver, the very first driving game played from a first-person perspective, which also served to show the incredible potential of using microprocessors in video games. Shepperd continued to work for Atari until 2003, designing games such as Starship 1, Asteroids Deluxe, and Hard Drivin’.,


Series I: Manuals and coding, 1974-2018 and n.d.

Series II: Source code printouts and paper tape, 1974-1976 and n.d.

Custodial History

The David Shepperd papers were donated to The Strong in December 2018 as a gift from David Shepperd. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 118.10908 and were received from David Shepperd in one shipment, along with an Altair 8800 computer (Object ID 118.10906).
Finding Aid to the David Shepperd Papers, 1974-2018
Cassidy Smith
5 August 2019

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)