In the 70s, there was a new form of entertainment, one that would grow to unimaginable heights. They called them “video games” and the first major success was Pong. Developed by video game guru Nolan Bushnell, Pong became the foundation for Bushnell’s legendary Atari company and ground zero for an industry about to explode.
Everything was simple in Pong. The playfield was akin to a table tennis environment with two opposing bars on each side of the screen, separated by a white line down the middle, that sent a white dot gliding back and forth.
Players only had to maneuver their white bar up and down the screen to volley the “ball” back to the other side. Missing the ball gave your opponent a point.
The creators of the game installed it in a Southern California bar to test its marketability. The bar owner soon reported that the machine had stopped working.
But, when Bushnell examined it, he found not a software or a hardware glitch but an overflowing coin basket that had gummed up the works. The first Pong game was literally filled with money – and it wouldn’t be the last machine to do so.
The newly-formed Atari started manufacturing Pong consoles as quickly as they could churn them out, trying to meet the overwhelming demand for the groundbreaking game across the country.
It was only the beginning and soon enough, Atari became an empire and the arcade game industry became a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Soon, Long Islanders would have a place called Time Out to spend their hard earned cash.
Do you remember playing Pong when it first came out? I’d love to hear any of your early arcade game memories in our comments section below.