Looking back, video game design seems a natural fit, although there was no such thing when I was growing up. I built a Tic-Tac-Toe playing machine in my teens which went up in smoke on the night it was scheduled to go to a science fair.
Our co-founder and company president, Jim Levy, came from a record industry background and understood the marketing and promotion of artists as well as products. So the video game business went from absolutely zero designer credit to something approaching rock star promotion.
Another little known fact about Amazing Tennis - the computer opponents are modeled after real people. In an odd turn of events, I joined a division 3 college tennis team at age 38.
My background is in hardware design. I found hardware work to be a welcome change from thousands of hours of programming and that led to the designs you mentioned.
One week before Pitfall! was to be released, I only gave you one life to play the whole game. I was experimenting with that concept as sort of the ultimate challenge.