What was the world’s first video game console?


Did you know that the world’s first video game console was called Magnavox Odyssey? The device was launched in 1972 by the company Magnavox, a subsidiary of Philips, and was famous for bringing an incredible technology at the time: connecting to the television.

The console was based on a prototype called “brown box” (brown box), created by engineers Ralph Baer, ​​Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch. However, who is considered the “father of video games” is Baer (1922-2014), a German-born American.

Although impressive, the odyssey it had several technical limitations, such as the absence of colors and audio, for example. The graphics were also very simple: one of the most famous games was a “ping-pong”, in which players moved two light bars to hit a moving ball.

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The color problem was circumvented through a hack: each game came with layers of plastic that, when placed under the TV screen, gave the impression of colorful visuals and details. Depending on the overlay, it was possible to visualize a tennis court, an American football field, a haunted house, among other styles.

The console was battery powered and came with dice, score sheets (the player had to write everything down manually), poker chips and game boards. Rumor has it that Baer wanted to develop “active cartridges” with more powerful sound effects and graphics, but the project did not materialize. However, he developed the world’s first light gun, a plastic gun that simulates shooting on the screen.

THE odyssey had 350 thousand units sold. However, some factors hampered this commercial success, such as the product’s marketing itself: many consumers had the false impression that the video game would only work on TV sets of the same brand, Magnavox – this false information was spread by the retail sellers themselves. The console sold for $100, but if you took a TV with you, it went for $50.

Another factor that hampered sales was the launch of pong, a “clone” that marked the foundation of Atari, in the same year as odyssey. In 1974, Magnavox filed a lawsuit against this and several other companies that sold games similar to theirs.

Result: Atari agreed to pay Magnavox $1.5 million and licensed its technology to continue selling pong and other later games. If we count all the processes by patent, the owner of the odyssey grossed over $100 million in total.

Did you know the history of the world’s first console? What was the first video game you had? Share with us through social media!

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