Forty years ago, Magnavox lifted the veil on the world’s first commercial video game console, the Odyssey. Designed to work with a home TV set, the Odyssey blazed a trail that every game console follows today.
The Odyssey launched at $99.99 (about $548 in today’s dollars) in August 1972 and included 12 games. Buyers could purchase other games separately, including an expansion set that included a realistic toy rifle–the world’s first light gun.
Magnavox’s console was built on technology originally developed by Ralph Baer, Bill Harrison, and Bill Rusch at Sanders Associates in the mid- to late 1960s. Baer’s invention, together with Atari’s work during the same period, founded an industry.
To celebrate the 40th birthday of this pioneering machine, I decided to take my Odyssey apart and see what makes it tick. It was a nice day outside, so I eschewed my trusty workbench for something a little more natural. Anyone who has an aversion to the color green should turn back now.