Video games is a hundred billion dollar industry. Almost two-thirds of Americans play video games regularly. From arcade systems to online games down to console games, video games come in different forms and genres.
It is no wonder why video games are trendy these days. With the pandemic continuously isolating people within their homes, playing video games is the best way to socialize and entertain ourselves in the meantime. Video game consoles come in different shapes and sizes, along with powerful technology that allows them to play a wide variety of games.
Video game consoles have a vibrant history. In this article, we learn more about the humble beginnings of the first video game console ever created.
The Early Days of Video Games
The first-ever video games started in research labs. The creation of the first video game happened in 1952 by British professor A.S Douglas. He created what was then known as tic-tac-toe which was part of his dissertation.
A few years later, William Higinbotham created another video game through the use of a large analogue computer. He made what was known as Tennis For Two at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. These video games were made through large computers that would become the prototype for video game consoles we all know today.
The Creation of the First Game Console
The year was 1967 when the true prototype for the game console was developed. It was a multi-program system that could be played on a television screen. The device was later known as The Brown Box. The idea of creating a video game console took a lot of trial and error for Baer and his team.
It took around three years and seven prototypes for them to create the Brown Box truly. It wasn’t until five years later that Ralph Baer of Sanders Associate, Inc truly came up with the first game console. Once the console was perfected, it was shown to several manufacturers before a company known as Magnavox agreed to produce the console in 1971.
The following year Baer and Magnavox began the production and marketing of the first-ever video game console known as Magnavox Odyssey. The console sold over 69,000 units over its first year and later on sold 350,000 more units until it was discontinued in 1975.
The console spawned other versions such as the 1978 Magnavox Odyssey 2 and many other gaming consoles. The original Odyssey was able to play around 28 games and one of which is the widely known ping pong game.
Reception of the Console
The Magnavox Odyssey first made an appearance in mid-September of 1972. Soon advertising campaign reached TV game shows such as What’s My Line? And touted the device as the electronic game of the future.
Initially, the console was marketed through Magnavox dealers, and people were made aware that such a device was being sold. The reception of the device was lukewarm at best. People thought that the console was made to boost the sales of Magnavox television.
Its high price also did not help its numbers, and some felt that dealers had misled them into buying television sets instead.
The Legacy and Impact
While the reception of the console was very timid, it also showed promise to the rest of the game developers at the time. The games found in the console inspired many others to create their own game.
One of the most controversial aspects of the Magnavox Odyssey’s history is the development of the game called Pong by rival company Atari. During the height of the gaming console’s popularity, Atari made a very similar game that quickly gained popularity. This ensued a legal battle for the next decade with Magnavox winning every lawsuit.
One of the major legacies of the Magnavox Odyssey is the continued development of the gaming console. What started as a plight to save the manufacturing costs of the console became a process of enhancing the gaming system.
Soon, dedicated Odyssey consoles were made that had built-in games, and later on, a follow-up non-dedicated console was made in the form of the Magnavox Odyssey 2. The constant search for better console gaming led to the rise of commercial video gaming.
This ultimately showed that there was potential for video games to become a proper industry, and people were buying these consoles for gaming. While the Odyssey was generally not considered to be very successful commercially, it led to the rise of the video game industry that we know today.
Video games would not be our primary source of entertainment and escape during these trying times if not for curious minds like Baer and his team. Without the creation of the Odyssey, many other video game companies would not be exposed to the technology brought upon by the gaming console, thus hindering the rivalry between the two.
The creation of the first gaming console will forever be etched in the history of video gaming.