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Development

While working, Ralph Baer thought of a system a person could control. Years later, in 1966, he proposed a machine that could make games be played on the TV. By December, he and Bob Tremblay had a working prototype that transmitted a signal to the television. He could now move a vertical line on the screen.

Once gaining funding, Baer began to work on another prototype and its games, the first of which was where players press buttons to fill up buckets. At the same time, a light gun and a third prototype was developed, and Baer's team received more funding.

Once more games were added, the console was deemed sufficiently powerful. It already had three games: A chase game with a joystick, a shooting game with a rifle, and a tennis game with a dial controller. It started pitching to cable companies, who mostly denied due to cash flow problems.

On their seventh prototype, RCA picked up the project. However, the CEO leaved to go Magnavox, and the team followed suit. They both signed an agreement in 1971. However, color TV compatibility was removed, and the three dial controller was selected. The console was named the Skill-O-Vision, and was later renamed Odyssey.

The rifle was then sold separately. Board game additions were also added to the box, along with overlays. Baer was upset with the former, stating players wouldn't use it. The launch date was set for September 1972.

Release

After positive reviews, Magnavox ordered more units. Magnavox retailers were growing because of having the first console. Some retailers even claimed that the console would only work with Magnavox TV's. The console also was not dropped after holidays due to strong sales. 1973 was also the year where the console was launched in Europe, and increased advertising began.

In 1974, Magnavox sued Atari over Pong: Magnavox claimed it copied their Table Tennis. Baer, however, noted that due to Pong, sales of the Odyssey had grown. The case was ruled in favor of Magnavox However, Atari settled out and Magnavox gained $1.5 million in fees, and access to all of Atari's technology for a one year period, starting in June 1976.

Magnavox continued to sue other table tennis clones, winning over $100 million dollars in fees. Nintendo attempted to invalidate the patent Magnavox held by showcasing Tennis for Two. The judge ruled it was not a video game due to the technology used.

By 1975, the console was discontinued after selling 350,000 units. It would be the final console that wasn't a ping pong variant before 1976's Fairchild Channel F.

List of games

Notes

  1. Each card lets different signals pass through, therefore allowing for different types of behaviors of the three on screen dot so.