It was 40 years ago that a small company named Atari came up with the idea for a coin operated video game called Pong.
This game took North America by storm and was a major sensation. Hard to believe now but at the time it was state of the art and an electronic wonder. The game was fun and it took over bars as people dropped in quarter after quarter as they played this new type of entertainment.
In the mid 70s until the mid 90s coin operated video arcades were a lot of fun and a fun place for teenagers to hang out. Now most kids play video games in their basements on consoles that have graphic computing power that cannot be duplicated in an arcade. There are still a few arcades around and they mostly have interactive games or gimmicky games that require a large machine like dancing games or large plastic gun shooters.
The real graphical advances in video games have come in the last 15 years or so as the current wave of 3D games have more or less been recreating the same old games over and over. We’re due for another breakthrough in gaming but it all would not have happened if it weren’t for Atari and Pong.
Another anecdote about Atari was that they needed a followup hit to Pong and they came up with a similar game where a paddle was used to hit a wall of bricks. The game was thought up by one of the young employees at the time named Steve Jobs. With the help of his friend Steve Wozniak they helped make the game Breakout and later went on to found Apple Computer.
Here’s a salute to Pong and a hopeful eye to the future advances in gaming!