What was probably the first successful arcade video game, Pong, turned 40 today, if Wikipedia is to be believed.
I am old enough to remember when this seemed incredibly new and different. And fun. This game was fun. I remember begging for quarters to play it at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Jose when I was a kid. (I cannot believe that place is still there.)
Quarters to play this!
This is the game that made Atari a household name. There were numerous knock-offs, and every home video game console had to have a version of Pong for the next decade. I think the NES might have been the first without a “two paddles and a ball” game by default.
The first video game console in our home was the Atari Super Pong version, which had FOUR… count them… FOUR variations on the game.
I cannot even remember what those four were. One was a solo version that was essentially you versus a wall, though you could turn the other controller to make a gap in the wall. Wozniak and Jobs would come along in a bit and turn that idea into Breakout, the prototypical “lone nerd in a losing battle” video game.
And the Atari 2600 came with paddle controllers primarily so you could play Pong, though I recall it being useful the Casino card games as well. (Which, if nothing else, taught me that in Blackjack, Vegas Rules suck. Unless, of course, you are the house.)
So remember Pong today, for it is the mother of all “how the hell was this ever fun?” video games.