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Pong
Pong
is one of the earliest arcade video games. It is a table tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. The game was originally manufactured by Atari, which released it in 1972. Allan Alcorn created Pong
Pong
as a training exercise assigned to him by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell based the idea on an electronic ping-pong game included in the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey, which later resulted in a lawsuit against Atari. Surprised by the quality of Alcorn's work, Bushnell and Atari
Atari
co-founder Ted Dabney decided to manufacture the game. Pong
Pong
quickly became a success and was the first commercially successful video game, which helped to establish the video game industry along with the first home console, the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's gameplay, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari
Atari
encouraged its staff to produce more innovative games. The company released several sequels that built upon the original's gameplay by adding new features. During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari
Atari
released a home version of Pong
Pong
exclusively through Sears retail stores. It was also a commercial success and led to numerous copies. The game has been remade on numerous home and portable platforms following its release. Pong
Pong
is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
in Washington, D.C. due to its cultural impact. Pong
Pong
has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows and video games, and has been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions.

Contents

1 Gameplay 2 Development and history

2.1 Home version 2.2 Lawsuit from Magnavox

3 Impact and legacy

3.1 Sequels and remakes 3.2 In popular culture

4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Gameplay[edit]

The two paddles return the ball back and forth. The score is kept by the numbers (0 and 1) at the top of the screen.

Pong
Pong
is a two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis. The player controls an in-game paddle by moving it vertically across the left or right side of the screen. They can compete against either a computer-controlled opponent or another player controlling a second paddle on the opposing side. Players use the paddles to hit a ball back and forth. The goal is for each player to reach eleven points before the opponent; points are earned when one fails to return the ball to the other.[1][2][3] Development and history[edit] See also: Origin of Atari
Atari
Inc.

Atari
Atari
engineer Allan Alcorn
Allan Alcorn
designed and built Pong
Pong
as a training exercise.

Pong
Pong
was the first game developed by Atari.[4][5] After producing Computer Space, Bushnell decided to form a company to produce more games by licensing ideas to other companies. The first contract was with Bally Manufacturing Corporation
Bally Manufacturing Corporation
for a driving game.[3][6] Soon after the founding, Bushnell hired Allan Alcorn
Allan Alcorn
because of his experience with electrical engineering and computer science; Bushnell and Dabney also had previously worked with him at Ampex. Prior to working at Atari, Alcorn had no experience with video games.[7] To acclimate Alcorn to creating games, Bushnell gave him a project secretly meant to be a warm-up exercise.[7][8] Bushnell told Alcorn that he had a contract with General Electric
General Electric
for a product, and asked Alcorn to create a simple game with one moving spot, two paddles, and digits for score keeping.[7] In 2011, Bushnell stated that the game was inspired by previous versions of electronic tennis he had played before; Bushnell played a version on a PDP-1
PDP-1
computer in 1964 while attending college.[9] However, Alcorn has claimed it was in direct response to Bushnell's viewing of the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey's Tennis game.[7] In May 1972, Bushnell had visited the Magnavox
Magnavox
Profit Caravan in Burlingame, California
Burlingame, California
where he played the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey demonstration, specifically the table tennis game.[10][11] Though he thought the game lacked quality, seeing it prompted Bushnell to assign the project to Alcorn.[9] Alcorn first examined Bushnell's schematics for Computer Space, but found them to be illegible. He went on to create his own designs based on his knowledge of transistor–transistor logic and Bushnell's game. Feeling the basic game was too boring, Alcorn added features to give the game more appeal. He divided the paddle into eight segments to change the ball's angle of return. For example, the center segments return the ball a 90° angle in relation to the paddle, while the outer segments return the ball at smaller angles. He also made the ball accelerate the longer it remained in play; missing the ball reset the speed.[3] Another feature was that the in-game paddles were unable to reach the top of the screen. This was caused by a simple circuit that had an inherent defect. Instead of dedicating time to fixing the defect, Alcorn decided it gave the game more difficulty and helped limit the time the game could be played; he imagined two skilled players being able to play forever otherwise.[7] Three months into development, Bushnell told Alcorn he wanted the game to feature realistic sound effects and a roaring crowd.[7][12] Dabney wanted the game to "boo" and "hiss" when a player lost a round. Alcorn had limited space available for the necessary electronics and was unaware of how to create such sounds with digital circuits. After inspecting the sync generator, he discovered that it could generate different tones and used those for the game's sound effects.[3][7] To construct the prototype, Alcorn purchased a $75 Hitachi black-and-white television set from a local store, placed it into a 4-foot (1.2 m) wooden cabinet, and soldered the wires into boards to create the necessary circuitry. The prototype impressed Bushnell and Dabney so much that they felt it could be a profitable product and decided to test its marketability.[3]

The Pong
Pong
prototype that was used in the tavern.

In August 1972, Bushnell and Alcorn installed the Pong
Pong
prototype at a local bar, Andy Capp's Tavern.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] They selected the bar because of their good working relation with the bar's manager, Bill Gaddis;[21] Atari
Atari
supplied pinball machines to Gaddis.[5] Bushnell and Alcorn placed the prototype on one of the tables near the other entertainment machines: a jukebox, pinball machines, and Computer Space. The game was well received the first night and its popularity continued to grow over the next one and a half weeks. Bushnell then went on a business trip to Chicago to demonstrate Pong
Pong
to executives at Bally and Midway Manufacturing;[21] he intended to use Pong
Pong
to fulfill his contract with Bally, rather than the driving game.[3][4] A few days later, the prototype began exhibiting technical issues and Gaddis contacted Alcorn to fix it. Upon inspecting the machine, Alcorn discovered that the problem was the coin mechanism was overflowing with quarters.[21] After hearing about the game's success, Bushnell decided there would be more profit for Atari
Atari
to manufacture the game rather than license it, but the interest of Bally and Midway had already been piqued.[4][21] Bushnell decided to inform each of the two groups that the other was uninterested—Bushnell told the Bally executives that the Midway executives did not want it and vice versa—to preserve the relationships for future dealings. Upon hearing Bushnell's comment, the two groups declined his offer.[21] Bushnell had difficulty finding financial backing for Pong; banks viewed it as a variant of pinball, which at the time the general public associated with the Mafia. Atari eventually obtained a line of credit from Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo
that it used to expand its facilities to house an assembly line.[22] The company announced Pong
Pong
on 29 November 1972.[23][24] Management sought assembly workers at the local unemployment office, but was unable to keep up with demand. The first arcade cabinets produced were assembled very slowly, about ten machines a day, many of which failed quality testing. Atari
Atari
eventually streamlined the process and began producing the game in greater quantities.[22] By 1973, they began shipping Pong to other countries with the aid of foreign partners.[25] Home version[edit]

Atari's Home Pong
Pong
console, released through Sears in 1975

After the success of Pong, Bushnell pushed his employees to create new products.[4][26] In 1974, Atari
Atari
engineer Harold Lee proposed a home version of Pong
Pong
that would connect to a television: Home Pong. The system began development under the codename Darlene, named after an attractive female employee at Atari. Alcorn worked with Lee to develop the designs and prototype and based them on the same digital technology used in their arcade games. The two worked in shifts to save time and money; Lee worked on the design's logic during the day, while Alcorn debugged the designs in the evenings. After the designs were approved, fellow Atari
Atari
engineer Bob Brown assisted Alcorn and Lee in building a prototype. The prototype consisted of a device attached to a wooden pedestal containing over a hundred wires, which would eventually be replaced with a single chip designed by Alcorn and Lee; the chip had yet to be tested and built before the prototype was constructed. The chip was finished in the latter half of 1974, and was, at the time, the highest-performing chip used in a consumer product.[26] Bushnell and Gene Lipkin, Atari's vice-president of sales, approached toy and electronic retailers to sell Home Pong, but were rejected. Retailers felt the product was too expensive and would not interest consumers.[27] Atari
Atari
contacted the Sears Sporting Goods department after noticing a Magnavox Odyssey
Magnavox Odyssey
advertisement in the sporting goods section of its catalog. Atari
Atari
staff discussed the game with a representative, Tom Quinn, who expressed enthusiasm and offered the company an exclusive deal. Believing they could find more favorable terms elsewhere, Atari's executives declined and continued to pursue toy retailers. In January 1975, Atari
Atari
staff set up a Home Pong
Pong
booth at a toy trade fair in New York City, but was unsuccessful in soliciting orders due to the fact that they did not know that they needed a private showing.[26][27] While at the show, they met Quinn again, and, a few days later, set up a meeting with him to obtain a sales order. In order to gain approval from the Sporting Goods department, Quinn suggested Atari
Atari
demonstrate the game to executives in Chicago. Alcorn and Lipkin traveled to the Sears Tower
Sears Tower
and, despite a technical complication in connection with an antenna on top of the building which broadcast on the same channel as the game, obtained approval. Bushnell told Quinn he could produce 75,000 units in time for the Christmas season; however, Quinn requested double the amount. Though Bushnell knew Atari
Atari
lacked the capacity to manufacture 150,000 units, he agreed.[26] Atari acquired a new factory through funding obtained by venture capitalist Don Valentine. Supervised by Jimm Tubb, the factory fulfilled the Sears order.[28] The first units manufactured were branded with Sears' "Tele-Games" name. Atari
Atari
later released a version under its own brand in 1976.[29]

The Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey, invented by Ralph H. Baer, inspired Pong's development.

Lawsuit from Magnavox[edit] The success of Pong
Pong
attracted the attention of Ralph Baer, the inventor of the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey, and his employer, Sanders Associates. Sanders had an agreement with Magnavox
Magnavox
to handle the Odyssey's sublicensing, which included dealing with infringement on its exclusive rights. However, Magnavox
Magnavox
had not pursued legal action against Atari
Atari
and numerous other companies that released Pong clones.[30] Sanders continued to apply pressure, and in April 1974 Magnavox
Magnavox
filed suit against Atari, Allied Leisure, Bally Midway and Chicago Dynamics.[31] Magnavox
Magnavox
argued that Atari
Atari
had infringed on Baer's patents and his concept of electronic ping-pong based on detailed records Sanders kept of the Odyssey's design process dating back to 1966. Other documents included depositions from witnesses and a signed guest book that demonstrated Bushnell had played the Odyssey's table tennis game prior to releasing Pong.[30][32] In response to claims that he saw the Odyssey, Bushnell later stated that, "The fact is that I absolutely did see the Odyssey game and I didn't think it was very clever."[33] After considering his options, Bushnell decided to settle with Magnavox
Magnavox
out of court. Bushnell's lawyer felt they could win; however, he estimated legal costs of US$1.5 million, which would have exceeded Atari's funds. Magnavox
Magnavox
offered Atari
Atari
an agreement to become a licensee for US$700,000. Other companies producing "Pong clones"—Atari's competitors—would have to pay royalties. In addition, Magnavox
Magnavox
would obtain the rights to Atari
Atari
products developed over the next year.[30][32] Magnavox
Magnavox
continued to pursue legal action against the other companies, and proceedings began shortly after Atari's settlement in June 1976. The first case took place at the district court in Chicago, with Judge John Grady presiding.[30][32][34] To avoid Magnavox
Magnavox
obtaining rights to its products, Atari
Atari
decided to delay the release of its products for a year, and withheld information from Magnavox's attorneys during visits to Atari
Atari
facilities.[32] Impact and legacy[edit]

Dedicated Pong
Pong
consoles made their way to various countries, like this Russian Турнир ("Turnir", meaning tournament).

See also: History of the video game industry The Pong
Pong
arcade games manufactured by Atari
Atari
were a great success. The prototype was well received by Andy Capp's Tavern patrons; people came to the bar solely to play the game.[4][21] Following its release, Pong consistently earned four times more revenue than other coin-operated machines.[35] Bushnell estimated that the game earned US$35–40 per day, which he described as nothing he'd ever seen before in the coin-operated entertainment industry at the time.[9] The game's earning power resulted in an increase in the number of orders Atari received. This provided Atari
Atari
with a steady source of income; the company sold the machines at three times the cost of production. By 1973, the company had filled 2,500 orders, and, at the end of 1974, sold more than 8,000 units.[35] The arcade cabinets have since become collector's items with the cocktail-table version being the rarest.[36] Soon after the game's successful testing at Andy Capp's Tavern, other companies began visiting the bar to inspect it. Similar games appeared on the market three months later, produced by companies like Ramtek and Nutting Associates.[37] Atari
Atari
could do little against the competitors as they had not initially filed for patents on the solid state technology used in the game. When the company did file for patents, complications delayed the process. As a result, the market consisted primarily of " Pong
Pong
clones"; author Steven Kent estimated that Atari
Atari
had produced less than a third of the machines.[38] Bushnell referred to the competitors as "Jackals" because he felt they had an unfair advantage. His solution to competing against them was to produce more innovative games and concepts.[37][38] Home Pong
Pong
was an instant success following its limited 1975 release through Sears; around 150,000 units were sold that holiday season.[39][40] The game became Sears' most successful product at the time, which earned Atari
Atari
a Sears Quality Excellence Award.[40] Similar to the arcade version, several companies released clones to capitalize on the home console's success, many of which continued to produce new consoles and video games. Magnavox
Magnavox
re-released their Odyssey system with simplified hardware and new features, and would later release updated versions. Coleco
Coleco
entered the video game market with their Telstar console; it features three Pong
Pong
variants and was also succeeded by newer models.[39] Nintendo
Nintendo
released the Color TV Game
Color TV Game
6 in 1977, which plays six variations of electronic tennis. The next year, it was followed by an updated version, the Color TV Game
Color TV Game
15, which features fifteen variations. The systems were Nintendo's entry into the home video game market and the first to produce themselves—they had previously licensed the Magnavox
Magnavox
Odyssey.[41] The dedicated Pong
Pong
consoles and the numerous clones have since become varying levels of rare; Atari's Pong
Pong
consoles are common, while APF Electronics' TV Fun consoles are moderately rare.[42] Prices among collectors, however, vary with rarity; the Sears Tele-Games versions are often cheaper than those with the Atari
Atari
brand.[39]

Tele-Games Pong
Pong
IV, Sears' version of Pong
Pong
sequel ( Pong
Pong
Doubles), was one of the many consoles that flooded the market by 1977.

Several publications consider Pong
Pong
the game that launched the video game industry as a lucrative enterprise.[8][29][43] Video game
Video game
author David Ellis sees the game as the cornerstone of the video game industry's success, and called the arcade game "one of the most historically significant" titles.[4][36] Kent attributes the "arcade phenomenon" to Pong
Pong
and Atari's games that followed it, and considers the release of the home version the successful beginning of home video game consoles.[37][40] Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton of Gamasutra referred to the game's release as the start of a new entertainment medium, and commented that its simple, intuitive gameplay made it a success.[29] In 1996 Next Generation named it one of the "Top 100 Games of All Time", recounting that "Next Generation staff ignor[ed] hundreds of thousands of dollars of 32-bit software to play Pong
Pong
for hours when the Genesis version was released."[44] Entertainment Weekly named Pong
Pong
one of the top ten games for the Atari 2600
Atari 2600
in 2013.[45] Many of the companies that produced their own versions of Pong eventually became well-known within the industry. Nintendo
Nintendo
entered the video game market with clones of Home Pong. The revenue generated from them—each system sold over a million units—helped the company survive a difficult financial time, and spurred them to pursue video games further.[41] After seeing the success of Pong, Konami
Konami
decided to break into the arcade game market and released its first title, Maze. Its moderate success drove the company to develop more titles. Pong has also been used in programming classrooms to teach the fundamentals of languages such as Java and C++.[46] Bushnell felt that Pong
Pong
was especially significant in its role as a social lubricant, since it was multiplayer-only and did not require each player to use more than one hand: "It was very common to have a girl with a quarter in hand pull a guy off a bar stool and say, 'I'd like to play Pong
Pong
and there's nobody to play.' It was a way you could play games, you were sitting shoulder to shoulder, you could talk, you could laugh, you could challenge each other ... As you became better friends, you could put down your beer and hug. You could put your arm around the person. You could play left-handed if you so desired. In fact, there are a lot of people who have come up to me over the years and said, 'I met my wife playing Pong,' and that's kind of a nice thing to have achieved."[47] Sequels and remakes[edit] Bushnell felt the best way to compete against imitators was to create better products, leading Atari
Atari
to produce sequels in the years followings the original's release: Pong
Pong
Doubles, Super Pong, Ultra Pong, Quadrapong, and Pin-Pong.[2] The sequels feature similar graphics, but include new gameplay elements; for example, Pong
Pong
Doubles allows four players to compete in pairs, while Quadrapong—also released by Kee Games
Kee Games
as Elimination—has them compete against each other in a four way field.[48][49] Bushnell also conceptualized a free-to-play version of Pong
Pong
to entertain children in a Doctor's office. He initially titled it Snoopy
Snoopy
Pong
Pong
and fashioned the cabinet after Snoopy's doghouse with the character on top, but retitled it to Puppy Pong
Pong
and altered Snoopy
Snoopy
to a generic dog to avoid legal action. Bushnell later used the game in his chain of Chuck E. Cheese's restaurants.[2][50][51][52][53] In 1976, Atari
Atari
released Breakout, a single-player variation of Pong
Pong
where the object of the game is to remove bricks from a wall by hitting them with a ball.[54] Like Pong, Breakout was followed by numerous clones that copied the gameplay, such as Arkanoid, Alleyway, and Break 'Em All.[55] Atari
Atari
remade the game on numerous platforms. In 1977, Pong
Pong
and several variants of the game were featured in Video Olympics, one of the original release titles for the Atari
Atari
2600. Pong
Pong
has also been included in several Atari
Atari
compilations on platforms including the Sega Genesis, PlayStation
PlayStation
Portable, Nintendo
Nintendo
DS, and personal computer.[56][57][58][59][60] Through an agreement with Atari, Bally Gaming and Systems developed a slot machine version of the game.[61] The Atari
Atari
published TD Overdrive
TD Overdrive
includes Pong
Pong
as an extra game which is played during the loading screen.[62][63] In 1999, the game was remade for home computers and the PlayStation
PlayStation
with 3D graphics and power-ups.[64][65] In 2012, Atari
Atari
celebrated the 40th anniversary of Pong
Pong
by releasing Pong
Pong
World.[66] In popular culture[edit] The game is featured in episodes of television series: That '70s Show,[67] King of the Hill,[68] and Saturday Night Live.[69] In 2006, an American Express
American Express
commercial featured Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick
in a tennis match against the white, in-game paddle.[70] Other video games have also referenced and parodied Pong; for example Neuromancer for the Commodore 64
Commodore 64
and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts for the Xbox 360.[71][72] The concert event Video Games Live
Video Games Live
has performed audio from Pong
Pong
as part of a special retro "Classic Arcade Medley".[73] Frank Black's song "Whatever Happened to Pong?" on the album Teenager of the Year references the game's elements.[74] Dutch design studio Buro Vormkrijgers created a Pong-themed clock as a fun project within their offices. After the studio decided to manufacture it for retail, Atari
Atari
took legal action in February 2006. The two companies eventually reached an agreement in which Buro Vormkrijgers could produce a limited number under license.[75] In 1999, French artist Pierre Huyghe created an installation entitled " Atari
Atari
Light", in which two people use handheld gaming devices to play Pong
Pong
on an illuminated ceiling. The work was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León in 2007.[76] The game was included in the London
London
Barbican Art Gallery's 2002 Game On exhibition meant to showcase the various aspects of video game history, development, and culture.[77] See also[edit]

Video games portal

Golden age of arcade video games History of video games List of arcade video games PainStation

References[edit]

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opens up massive classic-game library". GameSpot. Retrieved 25 December 2008.  ^ "Atari, Alliance Gaming to Develop Slots Based on Atari
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Xbox Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 December 2008.  ^ "Pong: The Next Level (PC)". IGN. Retrieved 11 January 2009.  ^ "Pong: The Next Level (PlayStation)". IGN. Retrieved 9 January 2009.  ^ " Atari
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celebrates 40 years of Pong
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with new, free iOS Pong
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Further reading[edit]

Cohen, Scott (1984). Zap! The Rise and Fall of Atari. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-011543-9.  Herman, Leonard (1997). Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames. Rolenta Press. ISBN 978-0-9643848-2-8.  Kline, Stephen; Dyer-Witheford, Nick; De Peuter, Greig (2003). Digital Play: The interaction of Technology, Culture and Marketing. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-2591-7.  Lowood, H. (2009). "Videogames in Computer Space: The Complex History of Pong". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 31 (3). pp. 5–19. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.53. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pong.

Pong-story.com, the most comprehensive site about Pong
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