During Episode 1 of the Question Block we had a round that featured non-Nintendo consoles. One of the questions asked what was considered the world’s first home video game console. The answer was the Magnavox Odyssey. I just thought you’d like to know some fun facts about the world’s first home game system.
- It debuted in 1972 more than three years prior the Atari developed game Pong.
- The first working prototype of the Odyssey was completed by Ralph Baer in 1968 and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
- It supported the world’s first “light-gun” peripheral, the Shooting Gallery. Much like the NES Zapper that would come later it could be fooled by pointing it at a light bulb.
- One unreleased peripheral for the device had a golf ball attached to the top of a joystick that players would actually hit with a golf club.
- It sold poorly at retail for a number of reasons, one of them being that customers thought the device would only work on Magnavox TV’s, which was untrue.
- Nintendo tried to invalidate Mr. Baer’s patents for the Odyssey by claiming that the first game created was Tennis for Two, developed in 1958. The court ruled that it was not a video game because it did not use video signals. Nintendo lost the case.
Ralph Baer also went on to develop the popular and highly successful game Simon. He also would go on to create one of the first cartridge based gaming systems, the Odyssey 2. Both of these would be released in 1978.