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Magnavox Odyssey: Pong By Any Other Name

by Sean P. Aune | May 9, 2010May 9, 2010 1:51 pm PDT

You have to love a video game system where you physically attach the graphics to the television screen (so long as it was 18 to 25-inches).

The Magnavox Odyssey is considered the first home gaming console, and just as the commercial shows, it essentially was a whole bunch of different ways to play Pong, but yet you had to buy circuit boards with different jumpers and screen overlays to get the “excitement” of the games.  It launched in 1972 and was discontinued by 1975.

magnavox odysseyThis particular commercial comes from 1973, and is obviously from after the initial confusion of when people thought it could only be played on Magnavox televisions, hence the words about “any television” not only being added, but also being underlined for emphasis.

Any way you slice it, this thing is beyond amusing.  Sure it was a novel concept, this was 1972 after all, but man is it ever a laugh riot when you look back at it now.

While it is amusing to look back at these types of videos, it also makes you stop and think for a moment about just how truly far we have come.  The first Playstation launched in 1994, 22 years after this, and while even the PS1 seems dated now, imagine how mind blowing that must have been for someone who had played on one of these.  Heck, even look back to the 1980’s and systems like the ColecoVision.  You go from playing multiple versions of Pong to graphical games like Donkey Kong that feature graphics of fire?  A world of difference.

Doesn’t really matter … the idea of clinging “graphics” to your TV doesn’t get any less funny.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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