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 First Generation

In 1966, Ralph Baer, an employee of defense contractor Sanders Associates (New Hampshire, USA) came up with the concept of a "television gaming apparatus." This device included both a chase game and a video tennis game, and could be attached to a normal television set. On 1 Sept 1966 Mr. Baer wrote a 4-page paper describing the plans for simple video games. On 7 May 1967 he played the first two-player video game with his team partner Bill Harrison. On 15 Jan 1968 the first patent application filed for video game. In January of 1969 Baer started to demonstrate a revised unit with a working light gun and joy-stick interface - the "Brown Box" - the very first fully-programmable, multi-player video game unit. Demonstrations were made to TV-set manufacturers including RCA, GE, Zenith, Sylvania, Magnavox, Warwick and Sears.

"I can never thank Ralph enough
for what he gave to me and everyone else."

Steve Wozniak
Co-founder Apple Computers

Magnavox Odyssey

It took several years and numerous false starts, but in 1970, Baer showed the game to Magnavox, which signed a licensing agreement the following year. Then, on January 27, 1972, Magnavox launched Baer's "brown box" technology as the Odyssey video game console - the world's first home video game system. Priced at $100, the Odyssey utilized simple black-and-white graphics, enhanced by plastic overlays for the television screen.


Genesis: How the Home Video Games Industry Began - by Ralph H. Baer
Ralph H. Baer - Father of the Home Video Game Console - A brief biography
The Original GamerDad - an Interview with Ralph H. Baer by Steve Fulton in 2005
The COLECO Story - by Ralph H. Baer - from the book "Videogames: In The Beginning"
History of Games - First Electronic Game Nominees - based on an article by Ian Blake
William Higinbotham and the Paleolithic Tennis - based on an article by William Hunter
The Origin of Spacewar - by J. M. Graetz, 1981 issue of Creative Computing magazine
Avoid missing ball for high score - a definition by Ashley Pomeroy in 2001
Kee Games, Tank, and Combat - Atari’s competition... by A.Kator & J. Legaz
Why the Video Game Industry Imploded - by Daniel A. Mazurowski in 1996

Pong Transformations

2006 - The Pong Clock - Design: Sander Mulder for Buro Vormkrijgers, NL
2006 - EgoPong & ToPong - Creators: Tim Hoffmann & Nadja Kutz for daytar group Berlin
2000 - ratio agendi#3 - Jan-Peter E. R. Sonntag - players interact physically in real space
Pong related software for Mac and PC - free screensavers and standalone widgets

Atari PONG

In 1972, inspired by an early peek at Ralph H. Baer's original video tennis game for the Magnavox Odyssey, Nolan Bushnell and his Atari company released an electronic arcade game called PONG, which became a huge success. This game truly launched the electronic gaming revolution.

In September 1972, a prototype was tested on top of a barrel as the first commercial coin-operated machine in a tavern in Sunnyvale, CA called "Andy Capp's'. Within a few days, Mr. Bill Gattis, the tavern manager, called Atari's engineer Al Alcorn (the original creator of the PONG prototype) and reported that the machine was in need of repair.

When examined, Alcorn discovered that the coin mechanism had been literally stuffed with quarters. Pong became an instant success and it created the arcade video game industry. The video game revolution had begun... from 1972 through 1976, you couldn't go to a pub or arcade without finding a long line at the PONG machine.




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