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“I always thought it was really beautiful, like a shimmering jewel when you walked into the arcade,” Bailey says.

Bailey worked on one other game after “Centipede,” but it never came out. Because processors were so limited at the time, she couldn’t make the game look and do all the things she wanted. She left Atari soon after that, at 26.

Today, Bailey teaches rhetoric and writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She lost contact with Atari until about a decade ago, when there was renewed nostalgic interest in the company. Books came out, and she had a few interviews, she recalls. Students in her class made a Wikipedia page for her.

“As a highly successful arcade game produced by Atari, Centipede also earned a name for itself for being the first game to begin luring women into the video arcades across the United States,” one sentence reads. Someone added the note “citation needed.”

Atari turned 40 this past Wednesday.

“I hadn’t realized that it was 40 years,” she says. “Centipede came out 31 years ago, which seems long enough. `40 years of fun’ is the greatest slogan, but it made me gasp. So much of it seems like yesterday.”

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Follow Barbara Ortutay on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BarbaraOrtutay