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Atari’s Pong – The Pioneer of Video Games!

Entertainment | November 6, 2017

In this day and age, you would be hard-pressed to find a child, or even adult for that matter, that was not familiar with the concept of video games. What we know as video games today, however, is in stark contrast to the way they began. Atari, the company that gave us Pong, probably had no idea what they were about to introduce the world to.  

In 1972, Atari released its first arcade style video game, Pong. The game itself was classified as a sports type game that simulated table tennis. Games could either be played against another human competitor or against the game system itself, not unlike today. Players controlled electronic paddles and attempted to volley a small dot back and forth for the winning score. The winner was the player who reached the score of 11 points first. Points were scored when an opponent failed to return a volley. The game had a black and white display, was slow and painfully basic, but we fell in love with it just the same! At the time, it was state of the art. It was such a treat to find yourself in a bar, a bowling alley or some other public gathering place where there was an opportunity to try your skill; so we all shamelessly lined up with our quarters to wait our turn.  

The Pong arcade video game console was big and bulky, not unlike something you would expect to see in an arcade, even now. The game screen itself though was minimal; about the size of a small television. Ironically, it was billed as a “Low Key Cabinet, Suitable for Sophisticated Locations.” The game was easy to spot but even if you didn’t know what to look for, you could usually just go to wherever the largest crown was forming. It was a huge hit!

A few years later in 1975, Atari rocked our socks and released a home version of Pong. The game console sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.00 - $250.00. Fortunately, or unfortunately, they were released just in time for the Christmas/holiday shopping season that year. Parents across America were scrambling, not only to find one, but to scrape up the money to purchase one. In 1975, the average, monthly mortgage payment was probably less than the cost of the home version of the Pong video game. For this reason alone, it would have been quite a thrill to find one under the Christmas tree. I remember the year my friend’s brother got one. I couldn’t wait to check it out!  

America had been bitten by the video game bug and it all started with Atari’s Pong. Following, it really goes without saying what happened next. Other companies began developing and releasing their own video games. Both arcade games as well as games for home entertainment had been redefined. After the technology was developed, it took off from there. Over the years, Atari continued to develop and refine their video games systems and a variety of games were available. At one time, the game system was even available in a modern wood-grain console… Fancy! It was truly mind blowing.  

Although I definitely appreciate the technology, I, still for the life of me, will never understand how the brains of the electronic video game creators work. Forget about the inner workings… I still can’t figure out how to play them! Video games are no different than any other electronic in that they are constantly evolving. 

As soon as we get the latest version, the next one is about to come out! It’s a never-ending cycle… GEESH! Check out the evolution of Atari!

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.