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Atari PONG was released in June 1972 and is the first commercially successful video game and is based on a simple two-dimensional graphical representation of a tennis-like game. Players use paddles to hit a ball back and forth on a black and white screen.
Pong was the first game developed by Atari Inc., by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney.
Pong (marketed as PONG) is one of the earliest arcade video games, and is a tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. The player controls an in-game paddle by moving it vertically across the left side of the screen, and can compete against either a computer controlled opponent or another player controlling a second paddle on the opposing side. Players use the paddles to hit a ball back and forth. The aim is for a player to earn more points than the opponent; points are earned when one fails to return the ball to the other.
Pong consistently earned four times more revenue than other coin-operated machines, which resulted in an increase in the number of orders Atari received. This provided Atari with a steady source of income; the company sold the machines at three times the cost of production. By 1973, the company had filled 2,500 orders, and, at the end of 1974, sold more than 8,000 units. The arcade cabinets have since become collector's items with the cocktail-table version being the rarest. Atari eventually sold more than 35,000 units, however, many more imitations were produced by competitors.
The success of Pong as an arcade game resulted in Bushnell pushing his employees to create new products. In 1974, Atari engineer Harold Lee proposed a home version of Pong that would connect to a television: Home Pong. The system began development under the codename Darlene, named after an attractive female employee at Atari. Alcorn worked with Lee to develop the designs and prototype, and based them on the same digital technology used in their arcade games.
Home Pong was an instant success following its limited 1975 release through Sears; around 150,000 units were sold that holiday season. The game became Sears' most successful product at the time, which earned Atari a Sears Quality Excellence Award.
Similar to the arcade version, several companies released clones to capitalize on the home console's success, many of which continued to produce new consoles and video games. Magnavox rereleased their Odyssey system with simplified hardware and new features, and would later release updated versions. Coleco entered the video game market with their Telstar console which featured three Pong variants and was also succeeded by newer models. Nintendo released the Color TV Game 6 in 1977, which played six variations of electronic tennis. The next year, it was followed by an updated version, the Color TV Game 15, which featured fifteen variations. The systems were Nintendo's entry into the home video game market and the first to produce themselves—they had previously licensed the Magnavox Odyssey.
The dedicated Pong consoles and the numerous clones have since become varying levels of rare.
Our unit is complete with the original box.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH4007. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.