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The First Video Game Console

Growing up in the 70’s was probably the coolest time a person could grow up. My generation saw the beginning of all things that are cool. We are the last generation to truly be amazed by and appreciate technology. Kids today (do I sound old yet) take tech for granted. Nothing seems to amaze them anymore. A relatively inexpensive cell phone in your pocket that you can play games against kids half way around the world? Of course, anything less is stupid and old. Nothing amazing there just the standard these days. I can just barely remember the first time I saw a computer generated pixel fly across the screen and hit a user controlled line and bounce off. Holy shit, amazing. Before that it was pinball and more physical machine games. Everything starts somewhere and this article is about the first video game console for the home that could be hooked up to a TV…The Magnavox Odyssey!

The what who you ask? Exactly. Magnavox, for you young ones, used to make TVs, audio equipment, game consoles, etc. Not who you would have thought to birth the home gaming revolution, but it was what it was. By today’s standards the Odyssey is a total joke of a machine, but in August 1972 this CPU-less, sound-less, Frankenstein of analog and digital was cutting edge. The Odyssey’s inventor Ralph Baer designed the system to use cartridges that had no components on them but rather switches and jumpers that would configure the consoles parts to achieve the desired game logic. This is believed to be the earliest example of a “video game cartridge”. That’s right 1972! Baer actually started his development in 1966 and had a prototype by 1968 called the “Brown Box” which now lives at the Smithsonian. The Odyssey console also introduced the world to the first “light gun” called “Shooting Gallery“. This was a hand held gun that would pick up the light signals from your TV. Not bad for the 70‘s.

There’s a ton of history of lawsuits and the like between Magnavox, Atari, Coleco, Mattel, Nintendo, etc. as all of the later a few years later started producing their own “pong” style home consoles. I guess Magnavox got the jump on everyone and decided that moving pixels that simulate someone playing tennis is a patent-able thing. I bet Apple looks up to those guys.

Well kids, you can find out more about the history of video games in the usual places, but you won’t right? I mean why should you look back at crap that barely worked? Don’t you have a six-processor phone that can rub your belly and make you bacon? Of course you do, so why should you care? I’ll friggin tell you… because if you don’t learn about what it took to give you the world of technology today how can you truly appreciate it? By the way, there’s a great new app, it’s called “The Outdoors”. It’s free and it works on any platform. You should check it out, without your phone with you.

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1 thought on “The First Video Game Console

  1. LOL nice. Yeah I never see any damn kids outside anymore. Only really little ones mostly if I do, and when I do see them, I say to my girlfriend, “Wow, those kids must not have a fuckin’ Xbox.” LOL

    Well, I learned something new. I didn’t know Magnavox was the first, but I know a bit about the old consoles and stuff. I’m from the Sony Playstation 1 era, but I still think Nintendo and stuff like that is kool and I still play PS1 games. Most kids won’t fuckin’ touch PS1 or even PS2 games…

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