Know Your Consoles: The Magnavox Odyssey


This week we would like to introduce a new segment to the ol’ What’s Your Tag? lineup called “Know Your Consoles.” We will explore some of the finer and more obscure details of retro gaming and maybe even introduce some products or concepts you’re unfamiliar with. Come along and take a wild ride on this retro magic carpet with Michael from Ninety-Nine Percent Gaming.

The Magnavox Odyssey

The history of video game consoles stretches back in a rich tapestry of failures and success, hits and duds. In this, the first article in a weekly series, we take a look at the very first home console ever – the Magnavox Odyssey.
Lifespan
Invented by Ralph Baer, commonly known as the ‘Father of home video games’, the Odyssey was released in May 1972 for $100. It came out swinging, selling 100,000 copies in it’s first year, and 300,000 overall.
Technical Stuff
The console mixed both analog and digital circuitry and was powered by batteries. Video game cartridges looked less like cartridges and more like computer chips that were slotted into the front. The controller looked and handled like a toaster, with a knob on each side for vertical and horizontal movement. It may not look like much, but it was the start of controllers such as the Dualshock and 360 controller.
Notable Games:
  • Pong
  • Tennis
  • Baseball

A special thanks to Michael Mullooly for the contribution of this article. Be sure to stop by his website and show him some support.

12 comments

  1. What do you think is the oldest playable console? For me it’s the NES and I grew up having the atari but I could never go back to playing any of those terrible games. Mario is timeless.

    1. I still play the NES, damn Castlevania 🙂

      Anything earlier than that I’ve never really had time with, but my Uncle has an Atari which I’ve had the (mis)fortune to play on.

      Huge thanks to Miles from Whats Your Tag for posting this up. May this be the first of many!

      1. I still play my NES as well, yet I curse Marble Madness as opposed to Castlevania. I clean all of my NES games about once a year (using the soft-side of a cuticle board and rubbing alcohol, which I learned while working at Rhino, may they RIP) and all of them — with the exception of Legend of Zelda :C — work great.

        My first console was the Atari, since my brother had one. I think I was about three when I started playing. I never got past that first pit in Pitfall. lol.

        Good post!

      2. Ah yes…. Classic castlevania. That takes me back a bit. Nintendo did so many things right with that system, it’s no wonder there are so many people who still have them.

    2. Yeah the Atari had it’s moment in the spotlight, but I don’t think I would ever go out of my way to play one. I still own my NES and just the other day I was playing Total Recall. Which is completely terrible btw.

  2. I respectfully disagree with most of you…Growing up I had the Sega Genesis and such, but we still busted out the Atari and the Magnavox from my dad’s teenage years just to play at my grandma’s house. My five cousins and I had a blast playing those rather than switching out when lives were lost because it was a more definitive defeat. Also I had a wild imagination and would completely pretend the little pixel people were way more then they actually were, but that is just me 😀

    1. You have to respect the origins of gaming and the Atari and Magnavox odyssey both made a huge impact. I still bust out the occasional game of pitfall and shootout, but I always have my NES and SNES hooked up and ready to rock.

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