Dave Theurer designed two classic games for Atari: Missile Command (1980), in which the player defends six cities against missile attacks until confronted with the apocalyptic ‘The End’ screen; and Tempest (1980), a fast-moving, vector-graphics tunnel through which the player flies while attacking an onslaught of monsters.
Theurer pushed the colour graphics technology to the limits, and while the game was an instant hit, it was also notoriously unstable. I, Robot (1983), the first commercial game to feature 3D polygon graphics and offer a choice of perspectives to the player, did not find the same traction with the public but is now recognised as being ahead of its time.
Theurer attended college in Chicago, studying Chemistry initially and then Physics, but with two years to go until completion he changed to Psychology, first using a computer to calculate his psychology statistics. After leaving Atari in 1990, Theurer designed the image-processing software DeBabelizer.