When he was a kid, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wrote video games for Atari computers -- and you can now see videos of them

Benioff flapperFlapper/ScreenshotA screen shot from ‘Flapper,’ a game designed by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff when he was in college.
  • In the 1980s, long before he founded Salesforce, Marc Benioff programmed video games for Atari 8-bit computers. 
  • Benioff posted a bunch of his old work on Twitter on Wednesday after a video game enthusiast uploaded videos of the games to YouTube.
  • One of the games even included music written by his grandmother.


If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to found a billion dollar tech company, the answer might be video games.

At least that was the path Marc Benioff followed.

Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce, got his start in the tech industry as a high schooler in the 1980s by programming video games for Atari computers. On Wednesday, the San Francisco billionaire offered some insights into his geek pedigree, posting on Twitter links to videos of some of his old games and explaining some of the circumstances around their development.

“Magically thanks to YouTube here it is!” Benioff said in one of the tweets, which pointed to a video of his game called “Flapper.” “Nostalgia!”

Benioff wrote his first game when he was 16 and started out focusing mainly on adventure-style games, he said on Twitter. After he graduated from high school in 1982, he started making arcade-style games, he said. “Flapper” was one of the games from his college years; Benioff’s grandmother, Freddie Lewis, wrote the music for it.

Best know for its video game machines, Atari also offered a line of home computers that were superpopular from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. Those personal computers helped popularise software programming.

Benioff switched to Macs in 1984, because he started using the programming language Assembly. He posted his series of tweets after a video game archivist uploaded videos of his old games to YouTube. 

 You can see the games and read Benioff’s commentary on them below:

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