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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

King Pong

Now that people are trampling each other to get their hands on the new Playstation 3, I thought we should take a look back at the world's first home video game. From
The video game history started in a strange and complicated way and it is important to avoid confusions with what happened in the 1950s and 1960s. The real video game history started with Ralph Baer as early as 1951. One very important thing to remember is how the video game has been defined in the 1960s before modern tehnologies allowed video games to be played on computers.

A video game is defined as an appartus that displays games using RASTER VIDEO equipment: a television set, a monitor, etc. In the 1950s and 1960s, computers were not only exceedingly expensive, but used a technology that could not allow integrating them into a video game system. Only mainframes could allow playing a few games. These games qualified as COMPUTER games, not VIDEO games. ...

... In 1966, Ralph Baer worked again on his 1951 TV game idea and designed a series of seven prototypes that played several video games. The first playable video game was a Chase Game: two squares chasing each other. The last prototype built in 1968 (also known as Brown Box) played Ball & Paddle games, Target Shooting games, and more. After several demonstrations to TV manufacturers, Magnavox signed an agreement in 1971 and the first video game system was released in May 1972: Odyssey. The history of PONG games and derivates just started, would spread all over the globe, and die in the early 1980s.

In the USA, it started on May 1972 with the Magnavox Odyssey (first home video game) and Atari in November 1972 (their first PONG arcade game). Atari's game was quickly copied and improved in 1973. Later in 1975, home video games became popular and were sold by numerous companies. Some like Executive Games started from a five-student MIT project. Others like First Dimension ran a poor business and did not survive the strong competition from Atari, Sears, Coleco, Magnavox and others.
I'm not that old, but I certainly don't have any childhood memories of people camping out in front of a store for three weeks to purchase a Pong game. I guess we were either smarter then or just had better things to do with our lives.


Chris Wilde said...

And now--according to Fred Armisen's impression of Steve Jobs on SNLFred Armisen's impression of Steve Jobs on SNL--the iPOD "Invisa" is small to the point of invisibility, holds 8 million songs, every photograph ever taken....and Pong.

Lee Shelton said...

"To order, call 1-800-282-heh, heh, heh, heh...Pong!"

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