Atari's Pong - 40 years today!

Atari's Pong is 40 years old today! That's incredible, I only remember playing Pong once or twice at a boot fair many many many years ago when I was a chubby little lad. But such a simple game has been played by a lot of people from around the world. There will not be many that haven't heard of Pong, I bet your Grandad probably has. So lets delve into a little bit of Pongitus ( I made that word up ).


Simply looking at this screen already has the sound effects playing in my head " beep, boop, beep, boop " yet it didn't need anything else.  Pong is one of the earliest games ever created in the history of mankind, a game of tennis featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. Although there was other Arcade games before it such as Computer Space, Pong was so popular it became the first game of it's type to reach mainstream popularity.


Simply bounce the ball back and forth through the up and down movement of the square bats, if the ball hits the area behind your square bat it's a point to your opponent. The square dotted line down the center being the net itself and no the ball doesn't hit the net and stop.  The balls can be controlled via the dialed controllers, player 1 on the left dial & player 2 on the right dial. I think going by memory it was anti-clockwise for bat movement down and clockwise for bat up.  Pong was manufactured by the guys of Atari in 1972 (Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney), I was born in 1979 so you kind of see how I missed most of the Pong time.

In September 1972, Bushnell and another guy called Alcorn installed a Pong prototype at a local bar named Andy Capp's Tavern. Funny that because nowadays it tends to be gambling machines for people to put pints on. Bushnell and Alcorn selected the bar because they had a good working relation with the manager, Bill Gattis. Atari supplied pinball machines to Gattis so it was a win win for both.

Both the creators above placed the prototype on one of the tables near the other entertainment machines in the Tavern. The game was so well received the first night and its popularity continued to grow over the next one and a half weeks. Bushnell at a later point decided to promote the product of Pong with business executives Bally and Midway Manufacturing. However it wasn't long after that the prototype began to exhibit issues which when you're trying to promote a product isn't the best of things to happen. But it turns out when inspecting the machine it was clogged up with quarters

But all was not well as during The creation and release of Pong. Atari was contracted to make a video game and a pinball machine for Bally Midway during the development cycle of Pong but, after discovering the success of Pong in testing sessions, they convinced Bally Midway that they could build a better game, not wanting to lose the game to someone else.

Shortly after Atari convinced Bally Midway to wait for their next game project, Bally Midway terminated the entire contract, meaning Atari had owned the rights to Pong. The bluff had worked.

Pong was such a massive success and is the first commercially successful video game it actually led to the start of the Gaming Industry. Because of it's popularity other companies developed similar games of it's type and releasing other new titles.  Thus became the Atari of developing new ideas in games, however still at times still improving the Pong game itself.

During the year of 1975, the company Atari actually released Pong into our homes, again being a massive success it did lead to other copies, improved Pong updates and on multiple systems. no longer where we the gamers stuck with just playing Pong on massive Arcade machines but actual home systems.

" beep, boop, beep, boop ahhhhhh "

During one year, a staggering 3,500 Pong arcade cabinets were made and sold after Bushnell sold 300 cabinets in one hour after his first attempt at a sales call. So what does it look like as an arcade machine? take a look at this video


Questions to our readers, Did you ever play Pong?, How old was you at the time?, What were your gaming memories during those years?

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