On This Day: Pong brings video games to life

<i>Pong</i> is known as the catalyst that sparked modern gaming and its billion-dollar industry.

Pong is known as the catalyst that sparked modern gaming and its billion-dollar industry. Photo: Getty

On this day 49 years ago, Pong, the first commercially successful video game, was released.

On November 29, 1972, a small American video game developer called Atari introduced its first product to the world: A two-dimensional table-tennis themed sports game.

Pong sparked a commercial and cultural boom for video games, leading to what is now a multibillion-dollar industry and mainstream form of entertainment.

Players controlled paddles that moved up and down to deflect a ball and stop it from passing into their goal.

Pong was a copy of another game made months earlier, and Atari was later sued for plagiarising the patent of Pong from the first home video game system Magnavox Odyssey.


Pong was later released by Atari, and a number of other developers, for home gaming systems. Photo: Getty

Despite this, Pong became a staple in video game history as the forefather to arcade games and modern games.

Atari was a leader in the arcade and home video game industries through to the early 1980s, before the boom of the home computer and other home gaming systems like Nintendo, Sega, and later, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.

Since Pong’s release nearly half a century ago, the global gaming industry has grown to be worth about $US138.4 billion ($194.3 billion).

Some game companies have earned higher revenues than the biggest blockbuster films.

In 2014, Rockstar’s title Grand Theft Auto V generated $US815 million ($1.1 billion) in profits in less than 24 hours.

GTA: V has since sold 155 million copies and is the second-most sold video game in history behind Minecraft, which has sold 238 million copies.

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