Welcome to episode 4 of this series detaling the history of games, today I’ll be looking at the 1st generation of consoles.
The first generation started in 1972, when the Magnavox Odyssey launched. The Magnavox Odyssey was really the only “console” in this generation, as the rest were dedicated machines for one game (generaly Pong). The Odyssey was essentially Pong (if you reember back to the Atari episode, Atari lost the lawsuit, as this game was developed first). Itha2 players and a ball. That was it. To compensate fo this, Magnavox developed colured plastic overlays which you would place on your TV to give the impression you were playing something other than Pong. The Odyssey cost $100 back in 1972 ($557.31 USD today), which included six games, the rest were sold separately, as was a lightgun peripheral.
A Magnavox Odyssey Box (See SOURCE 1 Below)
The Odyssey caused Pong fever around the globe, causing many other companies to make their own versions, which form most of the “consoles” of this generation. One of the more original consoles was the Colorsport VIII, which had eight different sport games, one of them a gun-shooting one. In 1974, philips bought Magnavox, and thus started releasing their own-branded version of the console (titled the Philips Odyssey) in 1976.
Nintendo was also a part of the first generation, althouh=gh not in the west – the consoles were Japan-exclusive, and called Color TV Game (there were several variants). While some of them were simply Pong clones, others contained port of Nintendo Arcade games.
The generation ended with a crash in 1977, due to manufacturers selling their systems at a loss. Both Magnavox (which had been sold to Philips by this point) and Atari stayed in the market, despite sufferng losses in 1977 and 1978. The crash ended wit the release of Taito’s Space Invaders.
hat’s all for this episode, but tune in next time (the 2nd of March) where ‘ll be taking a look at the sucess of the videogame arcade.
Inflation prices were calculated here