The world's first commercial gaming console, the Magnavox Odyssey


👍 Let's remember the device that revolutionised the industry – the world's first commercial gaming console, the Magnavox Odyssey.

📅 The Odyssey was manufactured by Magnavox and released in North America in September 1972. The system was developed by Ralph Behr, a German-American engineer who had long worked with television equipment for the defence industry.

💡 While working with TV sets, the inventor became interested in building something into them that the viewer could control. In 1966, while working at Sanders Associates, Behr developed the concept of using a TV for gaming. He was the first to describe the Brown Box, a device that could turn a TV into a game centre.

🤝 The next step for the project was to involve technician Bob Tremblay, with whom Behr made the prototype. Bill Harrison, a technician, and Bill Rush, an engineer, joined the project to help improve the prototype and lay down the first game concepts.

🏓 Rush made a very significant contribution by proposing the idea of implementing a ping-pong game through a console. Two players could control white rectangles and hit a third object symbolising the ball.

📅 In January 1971, Magnavox agreed to manufacture the console. Under the leadership of George Kent, the Magnavox team turned the prototype console into the final product.

🎮 Some interesting facts about the Magnavox Odyssey:

1️⃣ The console is built on transistors only and does not contain any digital elements, and cartridges are sets of jumpers that connect the functional blocks inside the console.
2️⃣ Magnavox was only the third largest company in the TV market by volume. With the introduction of the Odyssey, consumers had the misconception that the console only worked on Magnavox TVs, significantly affecting sales.
3️⃣ Magnavox sued Atari founder Nolan Bushnell for implementing the Pong idea in his first arcade machine.