You're wrong. The first commercial
video game was NOT Pong
, it was a game called Computer Space
"By 1970, the introduction of medium scale integration (MSI) transistor–transistor logic (TTL) circuits combining multiple transistors on a single microchip had resulted in another significant reduction in the cost of computing and ushered in a new wave of minicomputers costing under $10,000. While still far too costly for the home, these advances lowered the cost of computing enough that it could be seriously considered for the coin-operated games industry, which at the time was experiencing its own technological renaissance as large electro-mechanical target shooting and driving games like Sega Enterprises's Periscope
(1967) and Chicago Coin's Speedway
(1969) pioneered the adoption of elaborate visual displays and electronic sound effects in the amusement arcade. Consequently, when a recent engineering graduate from Utah with experience running coin-operated equipment named Nolan Bushnell first saw Spacewar!
at SAIL in late 1969 or early 1970, he resolved to build a coin-operated version for public consumption. Enlisting the aid of an older and more experienced engineer named Ted Dabney, Bushnell built a variant of the game called Computer Space
in which a single player-controlled spaceship dueled two hardware-controlled flying saucers. Released in late November or early December 1971 through Nutting Associates, the game failed to have much impact in the coin-operated marketplace.
Meanwhile, Ralph Baer, an engineer with a degree in television engineering working for defense contractor Sanders Associates, had been working since 1966 on a video game system that could be plugged into a standard television set. Working primarily with technician Bill Harrison, who built most of the actual hardware, Baer developed a series of prototype systems between 1966 and 1969 based around diode–transistor logic (DTL) circuits that sent a video signal to a television set to generate spots on the screen that could be controlled by the players. Originally able to generate only two spots, the system was modified in November 1967 at the suggestion of engineer Bill Rusch to generate a third spot for use in a table tennis game in which each player controlled a single spot that served as a paddle and volleyed the third spot, which acted as a ball. In 1971, Sanders concluded a licensing agreement with television company Magnavox to release the system, which reached the market in September 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey. The system launched with a dozen games included in the box, four more sold with a separate light gun, and six games sold separately, most of which were chase, racing, target shooting, or sports games. These games were activated using plug-in circuit cards that defined how the spots generated by the hardware would behave. Due to the limited abilities of the system, which could only render three spots and a line, most of the graphic and gameplay elements were actually defined by plastic overlays attached to the TV set along with accessories like boards, cards, and dice. Like Computer Space
the Odyssey only performed modestly and failed to jump start a new industry. However, the system did directly influence the birth of a vibrant video arcade game industry after Ralph Baer's design ingenuity intersected Nolan Bushnell's entrepreneurial ambition."
didn't come out until a year later:
"In 1972, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney decided to strike out on their own and incorporated their preexisting partnership as Atari. After seeing a demonstration of the Magnavox Odyssey ahead of its release, Bushnell charged new hire Allan Alcorn to create a version of that system's table tennis game as a practice project to familiarize himself with video game design. Alcorn's version ended up being so fun that Atari decided to release it as Pong
. Available in limited quantities in late 1972, Pong
began reaching the market in quantity in March 1973, after which it ignited a new craze for ball-and-paddle video games in the coin-operated amusement industry. The success of Pong
did not result in the displacement of traditional arcade amusements like pinball, but did lay the foundation for a successful video arcade game industry. Roughly 70,000 video games, mostly ball-and-paddle variants, were sold in 1973 by a combination of recent startups like Atari, Ramtek, and Allied Leisure and established Chicago firms like Williams, Chicago Coin, and the Midway subsidiary of Bally Manufacturing."
The Magnavox Odyssey came out before the first Atari console did. I think the reason most people don't know about the Odyssey, I presume, is because according to
it "never caught on with the public, due largely to the limited functionality of its primitive technology."