Magnavox Odyssey 2 Joystick Controller
video game controller
Ralph H. Baer is the technological pioneer responsible for the development of the first home video game system. During the mid-1960s, he set out to develop a device that would allow American consumers--40 million of whom owned televisions--to use their screens for something other than watching network programming. Baer, along with several colleagues from the electronics firm Sanders Associates, began work on a prototype television game system in the fall of 1966. By 1968, Baer's team produced a working sample known as the "Brown Box," an odd looking assortment of wires, diodes and batteries. Baer and a team from Sanders pitched the idea to a number of major North American television manufacturers. The project won support from Magnavox executive Gerry Martin in 1971, and they transformed the prototype into the Magnavox Odyssey (Model 1TL200), the world's first commercial home video game console. Magnavox began promoting the Odyssey Home Entertainment System in 1972, widely distributing flyers introducing consumers to their "exciting electronic game center." The marketing challenge was the fact that the general public could not relate to an electronic game; the term had yet to enter our cultural lexicon. Odyssey consoles were available only through Magnavox dealers, and their ad campaign led to the misconception that the system only worked when paired with a Magnavox television. This marketing miscue, combined with a steep $100 price tag, led to rather sluggish sales. In an effort to revive their marketing campaign, Magnavox ran a series of commercials featuring the iconic singer Frank Sinatra. First year sales topped only 100,000 units, much to the disappointment of Magnavox executives and Baer alike. Magnavox discontinued production in 1975. Odyssey 2 was a full-color programmable home video game system released in 1978. Although not a commercial success, Baer played a key role in the creation of this new form of electronic entertainment. Within a decade of the launch of the Odyssey video game consoles had become a ubiquitous part of the cultural landscape. For his contribution to the industry, Ralph H. Baer has earned the title of "The Father of Television Games."
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