Universally known as the worlds first home video games console, the Magnavox Odyssey was released in North America in 1972 for $100.
As was the norm with first generation games consoles, the Odyssey came with two paddles, which were used to control white blocks on the screen. It came with 6 game cards, which had 12 games within them.
There were no real graphics to the games, instead, the user had to place a plastic overlay over their tv screen with each game they played (thankfully, most people had the same size of TV back in the 70s). The system had no sound either.
This cartridge based games console unfortunately did not sell very well, in part because most people believed the system only worked with Magnavox branded Televisions (which wasn’t true).
It was released in the United Kingdom in 1973 and in the rest of Europe and Japan a year later. Though it only managed to sell about 350,000 units. I’m surprised it didn’t sell more, particularly when you consider how awesome their television advertisement was!! Though perhaps the fact it was only sold in Magnavox stores explains a lot.
Unfortunately, the Odyssey will only be remembered for two things: being the first video games console and being involved in the first video games lawsuit. Not only did they win their first lawsuit over Pong (which closely resembled the Odyssey tennis game), over the next 10 years or so they continued to win court cases against games manufacturers over patent infringements.
Strange as it may sound, the Magnavox Odyssey didn’t really have any specifications as it had no CPU or memory. It just had basic electronic components like transistors and capacitors.
The game cards had pins which connected to the main system and determined how the game was played.
Other than a carry case and ac adaptor, the Odyssey only had one peripheral released for it. Namely, a light gun called the ‘Shooting Gallery’.
The ‘Shooting Gallery’ cost a whopping $25, which was quite a lot in the early 70s. The gun came with 2 game cards and featured 4 games, which helped sell around 20 thousand of them on its 1972 release.
In total, 28 games were released for the Odyssey. The system was originally sold with 6 cartridges, which contained 12 games in total.
When the popular arcade game PONG was released near the end of 1972, the Odyssey had an increase in sales since it was the only games system available which let you play anything close to the arcade game.
- Brain Wave
- Cat & Mouse
- Fun Zoo
- Haunted House
- Interplanetary Voyage
- Prehistoric Safari
- Shooting Gallery
- Simon Says
- Table Tennis
If you would like to know more about the Magnavox Odyssey, please check out some of the websites below.