If there is one game that can really be called the ancestor of the modern video games industry, it must be Pong. Pong was originally developed in 1972 and although there were earlier games available, Pong was the one which reached the mainstream with any sort of momentum. It was the first commercially successful video game and the one which sparked the creation of the video games industry.
Atari was the company behind Pong and Alan Allcorn was the developer responsible for the coding. Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell had seen a similar tennis game on the Magnavox Odyssey (an admission which led to a successful lawsuit later on behalf of Magnavox) and asked Allcorn to to write something similar. In fact Bushnell had also claimed he’s played a version as far back as 1964 on a PDP-1 computer. The decision to actually manufacture the game came after Bushnell was impressed by the results.
The game itself is incredibly simple in its appeal. In the unlikely event that anyone does not know what it consists of, it’s a one player or two player game in which each player has a paddle/bat on his side of the screen and, just like tennis or ping pong, attempts to return the ‘ball’ back to the other player. Check out the video below:
It certainly brings back some memories but for those who cant quite remember the original arcade version, it may be the home console version that jogs the brain cells. The heyday of the arcade cabinet version of Pong was from 1973 onwards and the game was also shipped overseas. In 1974, while looking to expand on the success of the arcade version, work began on a home console version. Comprising some significant new chip development, the product was ready for the market by January 1975. Following some drawn out negotiations with the Sears Sporting Goods departments, they agreed to order 150,000 units in time for Christmas and its success was assured.
Despite the fact that Atari did not manage to file patents in the early days, the game was a tremendous success, although the market quickly became flooded with clones. At one point Atari was though to have manufacture only 1/3 of the arcade version in use. For interesting up to date version, it’s worth checking out a Massively Multiplayer Online variation of Pong, released several years ago.