Video game history

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Here is a brief chronology of how and when Video Games came to life (for more detailed story, read Genesis - How Videogames Began ):

Summer 1966
I came up with and worked on ideas on using a TV set for playing games.

1 Sept 1966
Wrote a 4-page paper describing my plans for simple video games.

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Click here to view typewritten transcripts of above notes.

6 Sept 1966
Drew a block-diagram for a two-player game:

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7 May 1967
Played first two-player video game (I lost!)

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14 June 1967
Demonstrated two-spot game including light gun for Playing multiple choice games:

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Light gun
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Oct-Nov 1967
Worked up Ping-Pong concepts with Bill Rusch and Bill Harrison (An engineer and a technician working for me at Sanders Associates).

9-13 Nov 1967
Demonstrated fully-functional ping-pong game

15 Jan 68
First patent application filed for video game; resulted in '480 patent.patent1.gif (4821 bytes)

1 Oct 1968
Demonstrated complete switch-programmable video game unit capable of playing ping-pong, volley-ball, football, gun games and using colored, transparent overlays as backgrounds

Jan 1969
Started to demonstrate revised unit adding light gun and joy-stick interface- the "Brown Box" - first fully-programmable, multi-player video game unit. Demonstrations were made to TV-set manufacturers including RCA, GE, Zenith, Sylvania, Magnavox, Warwick (Sears) - Yes, TV sets were manufactured in the US in those years! Most demos took place at Sanders Associates' Nashua NH plant.

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"Brown Box"
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March 1970
License Agreement with RCA written, then canceled

17 July 1970
Demonstrated the "Brown Box" to Magnavox TV-set engineering, production and marketing management in their Ft.Wayne, IN plant. "It's a GO!"

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"Brown Box" with gun
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3 Mar 1971
Preliminary License Agreement signed with Magnavox in Ft. Wayne.

Mar-Sept 1971 
Visits to Ft.Wayne to assist Magnavox engineers in turning out a production version of the "Brown Box"...turns out to be almost a dead ringer, part-for-part and works great! Magnavox signs exclusive License Agreement.

March 1972
Magnavox shows first "Odyssey" video game to large groups of Magnavox dealers in several US locations (Tavern-on-the-Green in NY, etc.) HOME VIDEO GAMES ARE LAUNCHED NATIONWIDE!

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Magnavox Odyssey advertisement
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29 May 1972
Nolan Bushnell (later President of ATARI) visits "The Magnavox Profit Caravan" at the Airport Marina Hotel in Burlingame, CA. He signs guest book for Magnavox Odyssey demo and plays the Odyssey ping-pong game hands-on. Later, he hires Alan Alcorn to design and build a coin-op version of the ping-pong game: "PONG". The PONG game is a great success! COIN-OP VIDEO GAMES ARE LAUNCHED!

Aug-Dec 1972
Magnavox sells nearly 100,000 Odyssey video games in the US. The first Pong game shows up (a take-off of Odyssey's ping-pong game). The Home Video Game Industry is launched."

A total of 350,000 Odysseys have been produced and bought. The home video game business becomes a competitive industry Christmas 1975 with the appearance of the Atari-made Sears game.

I help Coleco get into the video game business in a big way with their Telstar game. Also work on Coleco's ARCADE and COMBAT home games and on Magnavox' Odyssey2 game.

For a detailed account of what really happened read my book:

"Videogames: In the Beginning".
Go to for ordering information


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