Magnavox Oddyssey
After the rejection by the military of Raplh Baer's idea, Baer would spend several years covertly 
trying to obtain the legal rights to commercially reproduce the game machine he helped design 
at Sanders Associates in 1966.

Eventually the Pentagon became disinterested in the "TV Game" project, and Baer was allowed 
to pursue the prospect openly.  He approached Teleprompter, RCA, Zenith, General Electric, and 
Magnavox. A deal was struck with RCA, but later fell through because it involved the purchasing 
of Sanders Associates by RCA.

Then in 1970 Bill Enders, who had been a part of the RCA negotiating team, joined Magnavox and 
persuaded the Magnavox executives to give Baer's system a chance. The result of this was the 
production of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game system available to non-military 
personnel.

The Odyssey had over three hundred seperate parts. It came with hand controls, dice, playing cards, 
and play money. Plastic overlays which were placed onto the screen by the consumer, provided color 
playing fields for the various games. The system came preprogrammed with twelve games that utilized 
all of the aforementioned equipment.

While it could not compete with the Pong units that would be released soon after, the Odyssey did 
have a very impressive first year, selling over 100,000 units at $100 each.

The real cause for the popularity of the Pong units over the Odyssey was not because of the marketing 
prowess of competing companies, but rather the creation of low cost LSI (Large Scale Integrated) circuits. 
These circuits were designed primarily for tennis, hockey, and other Pong-eqsue game mechanics. The 
low cost LSI's would allow the market to be flooded by Pong knock-offs. 



 
 
Jt august  starsabre@att.net  on Sunday, February 27, 19100 at 00:16:13
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
The way games were changed on the system is not entirely complete in the above text.  While the 
overlays must be put on the screen by the player (held in place with a few drops of water on the side 
that contacts the TV screen), a wafer card must also be plugged in.  This card effectively alters the 
internal wiring of the machine so that the ICs inside it interact differently, producing varied output on 
the screen.

The machine produces no sounds and the video signal is white blocks and/or bars; no colour or 
shades of gray.

Rules and scoring for all games are handled by the players.  This allows for players to cheat, and from 
personal experience I can state that cheating does inprove the enjoyability of some of the games (particularly 
in party situations).

A few accessory game packages were sold for the system.  Some included additional game cards for 
the machine, others only provided screen overlays and table top pieces.  The best known of these packages 
is the Shooting Gallery.  It consists of two cards, some overlays, and a toy rifle (very realistic looking) that 
has to be cocked before it can shoot.  Due to the rudimentary technology of the time, the cheat point for this 
unit is to point the gun at any light.  The optic sees a light and blanks the dot from the screen.

In some collectors circles, it is suspected that less than 5,000 Odysseys still exist of the original 100,000 
(with only a small portion still being complete packages), and significantly fewer Shooting Galleries still exist.  
From personal experience, I can state that three people I have known who had Odysseys back "in the day" 
simply threw theirs away, meaning that those three packages no longer exist.  In the 70's and early 80's, few 
thought that anyone would ever want this stuff ever again.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mike B.  on Saturday, January 15, 19100 at 10:47:44
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'd just like to comment that I own one of the Magnovox Odyssey's. It's still in perfect condition and to 
this day is entertaining to look back and see how it all started.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any information or facts about this videogame system?  If you do, we would love to here from you.  Submit it below, and if it is good, we will post it on this site.
Name
Email
Info