Lang and others wanted to let Jobs go, but Bushnell worked out a solution.
"The smell and behavior wasn't an issue with me," he said. "Steve was prickly, but I kind of liked him.
So I asked him to go on the night shift. It was a way to save him."
Jobs would come in after Lang and others had left and work through most of the night.
Even thus isolated, he became known for his brashness.
On those occasions when he happened to interact with others, he was prone to informing them that they were "dumb shits."
In retrospect, he stands by that judgment. "The only reason I shone was that everyone else was so bad," Jobs recalled.
Despite his arrogance (or perhaps because of it) he was able to charm Atari's boss.
"He was more philosophical than the other people I worked with," Bushnell recalled.
"We used to discuss free will versus determinism. I tended to believe that things were much more determined, that we were programmed.
If we had perfect information, we could predict people's actions. Steve felt the opposite."
That outlook accorded with his faith in the power of the will to bend reality.
Jobs helped improve some of the games by pushing the chips to produce fun designs,
and Bushnell's inspiring willingness to play by his own rules rubbed off on him.
In addition, he intuitively appreciated the simplicity of Atari's games.
They came with no manual and needed to be uncomplicated enough that a stoned freshman could figure them out.
The only instructions for Atari's Star Trek game were "1. Insert quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons."
Not all of his coworkers shunned Jobs.
He became friends with Ron Wayne, a draftsman at Atari, who had earlier started a company that built slot machines.
It subsequently failed, but Jobs became fascinated with the idea that it was possible to start your own company.
"Ron was an amazing guy," said Jobs. "He started companies. I had never met anybody like that."
He proposed to Wayne that they go into business together; Jobs said he could borrow $50,000, and they could design and market a slot machine.
But Wayne had already been burned in business, so he declined.
"I said that was the quickest way to lose $50,000," Wayne recalled,
"but I admired the fact that he had a burning drive to start his own business."
One weekend Jobs was visiting Wayne at his apartment, engaging as they often did in philosophical discussions,
when Wayne said that there was something he needed to tell him.
"Yeah, I think I know what it is," Jobs replied.
"I think you like men." Wayne said yes.
"It was my first encounter with someone who I knew was gay," Jobs recalled.
"He planted the right perspective of it for me." Jobs grilled him: "When you see a beautiful woman, what do you feel?"
Wayne replied, "It's like when you look at a beautiful horse.
You can appreciate it, but you don't want to sleep with it. You appreciate beauty for what it is."
Wayne said that it is a testament to Jobs that he felt like revealing this to him.
"Nobody at Atari knew, and I could count on my toes and fingers the number of people I told in my whole life.
But I guess it just felt right to tell him, that he would understand, and it didn't have any effect on our relationship."