The Brown Box
Let’s travel back in time to 1960s when the world’s, especially the United States’ homes, were overflown with televisions. This, at the time, new technology clicked the light bulb on top of Ralph Baer’s head, as he had an idea to use the technology and make a machine that will trigger the people’s interaction with the TV instead of just passively watching it.
While working for Sanders Associates Inc., Ralph, together with his co-workers Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch, were searching for a way to play games on the televisions, and they created several devices that were used for multiplayer gaming. The result, in 1969, was the “Brown Box”, which was a prototype for the first multiplayer video game system. They licensed the system to Magnavox, and three years later, in 1972, Magnavox Odyssey was released and sold across the United States and the rest of the World, creating a brand-new product which paved the way for all the other video game systems that came after it, and bringing gaming industry to a new level. This revolutionary move was supported by many people, funded by several organisations and companies, as it was obvious that something big can come out of this. The first Magnavox Odyssey a.k.a. the Brown Box was sold with two controllers, additional light gun that was already invented as an extra joystick, and 16 switches for the users to select which game they wanted to play.
Baer had the idea, and with many helping hands, he made that idea a reality – but he needed a platform to work on to test the new devices that he, together with his team, was creating. The light shines on The Chase, which is officially the 1st game that was played on a video game console. This was a simple, two-player game that could be displayed on a standard television where two dots chased each other around the screen. He presented the idea to the director or R&D Herbert Campman, who decided to fund and join the project, sensing that something great will happen.
Things were looking sharp at the company, and as every company, the guys were looking for new, innovative things. Not soon after The Chase was invented, a third, the computer controlled dot was brought on screen, allowing the developers of The Brown Box to create the Ping Pong game. I am sure you’ve all seen it – Two controllers were required to play it, and the players were moving up and down while the ball, controlled by the computer, was travelling left and right. The goal was to touch the ball and bounce it back to the opponent, with “goals” counted at the top. After this very first computer-controlled dot was invented, it was easy for Baer and his team to continue and invent new games where the computer had a role in it.