50 years ago, the first video game console made its way into homes

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50 years ago, the first video game console entered homes

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The exact release date of Magnavox's Odyssey console is unknown.

In 1972, Odyssey, the very first video game console, was marketed by the American company Magnavox. The machine worked with joysticks on wheels, and you could add a touch of graphics using sheets with colored decorations that were placed on the television screen.

The Magnavox console was controlled using battery-operated joysticks with three small wheels. The device worked with cartridges, but not in the same way that we know today with modern machines: the programs were integrated into the console itself, and the cartridges were used to run the desired game.

No sound came out of the TV when the machine was plugged in. Scores weren't recorded either – they had to be recorded by hand, on a card provided in the Odyssey box. This also contained dice and playing cards.

Didn't own this console who wanted it: the device retailed at US$100, the equivalent today around CA$950 today, according to the French daily Le Monde.

This is also one of the reasons why the console was not a commercial success and why it is fallen into oblivion. Some 350,000 copies have been sold, according to the National Museum of American History website.

Odyssey has nevertheless marked a turning point for the video game industry, since it is the first to have been sold to the general public. Before the 1970s, consoles were reserved for a select group of people, especially in a university or military setting.

It must be said that one of the brains behind this invention is Ralph Baer, ​​an American engineer who at the time worked for the military electronics company Sanders, before the concept of what he called the Brown Box was acquired by Magnavox.

Even arcade machines had not yet known their rise, and they were produced in small quantities.

The Magnavox console also had a weight in the origin of the game tennis Pong by Atari. Indeed, the creators of the popular title were inspired by it to build this first video game success, released on an arcade terminal a few weeks after Odyssey.

“Pong” creators Ted Dabney, Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn

Magnavox has also filed a lawsuit against Atari , arguing that company co-creator Nolan Bushnell plagiarized Odyssey following a preview demonstration of the contraption. The pioneer of the video game industry won his battle.

A patent filed a few years later by Magnavox and Ralph Baer concerning video games on a cathode-ray tube television won to the American company a series of other legal battles against anyone who entered this industry in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Le Monde.

D According to the American newspaper New York Times, these repeated successes in court have brought in some 100 million US dollars (about 137.6 million Canadian dollars) for Magnavox.

With information from The World, and New York Times

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