A video game console is a specialist electronic device that allows users to play interactive games on a display device (typically a television). Currently, the vast majority of video game systems are made by Sony (PlayStation brand), Microsoft (Xbox brand) and Nintendo (Wii brand). The video game industry is worth over $80 billion each year, but it had very humble beginnings indeed. The latest consoles are considered to be the eighth generation, but the first generation just barely got off the ground. Today, we take the video game console for granted, but the invention of this great entertainment device didn’t occur until mid way through the 20th century.
Who invented the video game console?
The first video games were invented in the 1950′s, but they were played with massive computers connected to special displays. It was in 1951 that engineer Ralph H. Baer came up with the idea of the home video game console. He created the prototype for the first working console in 1960′s, but no manufacturers were willing to take on his idea. It wasn’t until 1972 that US electronics company Magnavox released the Odyssey (pictured). Baer’s initial design would allow users to change switches to play different games, but Magnavox replaced this idea with separate cartridges for each game.
The Odyssey was not very successful and the video game industry floundered until the release of the video game Pong. Responding to demands Magnavox cancelled the original console and released a scaled down version that could play only Pong and hockey and a “high end” model that had additional features. These consoles, along with a console from Atari, created a demand in the market and soon many other companies were creating video games.
Did you know?
The PlayStation 2 is the highest selling video games console of all, with a total of 158 million consoles sold since it was released in 2000.
In 2006, Ralph H. Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology for his invention.
Baer also invented the first video game console peripheral, a light gun called the “Shooting Gallery.”