Pong... One of the earliest
forms of electronic entertainment in the world, it was
demanding coins in bars and arcades all over America, and
Atari, the pioneer of the Pong arcade concept, was about
to bring it to the home.
The now infamous "bat and
ball" game was about to invade homes across America, and
Engineering the arcade Pong
into a home version was the work of Harold Lee, together
with Bob Brown and Al Alcorn. They designed the
majority of the electronics into a silicon chip, the next
step was to find a retail channel for the new product.
Atari was an arcade manufacturer at this time, and it
would be their first retail/home product, a milestone for
Tom Quinn of Sears Roebuck &
Co. was impressed by the presentation of the prototype,
and quickly signed up to sell the unit through their
stores. In fact, when it came to the holiday season
of 1975, you either had to pre-order a unit, or wait in
line to get one - Atari sold over 80,000 units, and Sears
even went on to order their own version, the first
OEM contract for Atari!
Atari went on to produce Super
Pong, Pong Doubles, Ultra Pong and variants of Pong
utilising up to 4-player controllers. Other consumer
products released in the 1970's included home conversions
of Video Pinball and Stunt Cycle.
In fact the market was so
crowded with Pong and Pong variants, you could have
purchased a number of systems from manufacturers such as
Sears, Telegames, Binatone, Radio Shack, Pye, Concept
2000, Unisonic, Magnavox, the list goes on!
Ultimately, Pong variants
flooded the market following Atari's retail success.
But these early home products from Atari paved the way for
a much bolder vision, and that was a programmable
cartridge based video game system that made Atari the
fastest growing video games company in the world.