I’m sure you’re familiar with the role that Ralph Baer’s team had in creasing the first home video game as a side job while they were working at defense contractor Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems) in Nashua. If not, here is one of many stories I’ve written about it.
However, I’ve never gone into the follow-up – why Magnavox decided to turn their work into the Odyssey, the first hook-it-to-your-TV-and-play system.
But Indianapolis Monthly magazine just did – Magnavox was based in Fort Wayne, Ind., at the time.
Over the ensuing months, Baer and technician Bill Harrison would make frequent trips to Fort Wayne to help develop the Odyssey, a machine that, upon its release in mid-September 1972, would enable kids and adults alike to play computerized simulations of volleyball, hockey, target shooting (hence the rifle), golf (the real putter), and, most famously, pingpong in their own living rooms, basements, and bedrooms. More than inventing the idea of a modern video game, Baer was about to introduce the world to the concept of interactivity, years before the buzzword was coined. “
The article has a lot of detail about Magnavox, which was wrestling with huge changes in the television industry at the time. It’s well done and worth reading. You can read it here.