Magnavox Class Work

Did you know that pong is a knockoff? Yes, Atari’s first game pong was so similar to Magnavox game table tennis that a judge ruled that it infringed on Magnavox’s patents.

Image From “Pong Game” by mbiebusch is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Magnavox Odyssey was the first home video game console. The cartridge-based system would connect to players’ TVs and was capable of playing 28 different games. The games were limited to basic vector graphics and so did not have displays meaning the games that required one would come with a thin film that would adhere to the tv screen. This overlay not only allowed for displays but also enabled Magnavox to sell very similar games because while the overlay would change the context of the game the mechanics remained more or less the same.

Image from “1974 Magnavox Odyssey Game System Advertisement Readers Digest December 1974” by SenseiAlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Magnavox Odyssey brought video games into the homes of Americans. Before its introduction, video games were played almost exclusively in technology labs in universities. Being first allowed Magnavox to set the standard. Their console connected to a television and was capable of playing multiple games. While later versions of the Odyssey would lose the ability to swap game cards, that function became standard in the industry. The consoles of today are based on the standard set by the Magnavox Odyssey. A box that connects to a tv and plays games depends on what disk/cartridge is put in it… well except for the switch which has its own screen… and the change from physical to digital media means that within the next generation, it is likely that most mainstay consoles will not have optical drives, but for now the Magnavox Odyssey model stands.

Further Reading

Thinkset’s “The Case of the Video Game Lawsuit Racket”
They Created Worlds’ “1TL200: A MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY”

Facebook post – “learn about the grandfather of all games consoles here.”
Instagram – “learn about this antique console and how it shaped the gaming industry here” the image would be the one at the top of the article.
reddit (r/gameing and r/retrogaming) – “50 years later and they are still using this design” the image would be the one at the top of the article and the link would be in the comments.

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