Pong by Atari

Pong was one of the earliest arcade video games, a tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. The aim is to defeat an opponent—either computer-controlled or a second player—by earning a higher score. The game was originally manufactured by Atari Incorporated, who released it in 1972. Pong was created by Allan Alcorn as a training exercise assigned to him by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell based the idea on an electronic ping-pong game included in the Magnavox Odyssey, which later resulted in a lawsuit against Atari. Surprised by the quality of Alcorn's work, Atari decided to manufacture the game.

Pong Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game, which led to the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's gameplay, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari encouraged its staff to produce more innovative games. Several sequels were released that built upon the original's gameplay by adding new features. During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari released a home version of Pong exclusively through Sears retail stores. It was also a commercial success and led to numerous copies. The game has been remade on numerous home and portable platforms following its release. Pong has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows and video games, and has been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions.

Atari had established a pinball route consisting of local businesses to generate steady income. In September 1972, Bushnell and Alcorn installed the Pong prototype at a local bar, Andy Capp's Tavern; they selected the bar because of their good working relation with the bar's manager, Bill Gaddis. They placed the prototype on one of the tables near the other entertainment machines: a jukebox, pinball machines, and Computer Space. The game was well received the first night and its popularity continued to grow over the next one and a half weeks. A few days later, the prototype began exhibiting complications and Gattis contacted Alcorn to fix it. Upon inspecting the machine, it was discovered that the mechanism had jammed from an overflow of quarters.

The Pong arcade games manufactured by Atari were a great success. The prototype was well received by Andy Capp's Tavern patrons, with people coming to the bar solely to play the game. Following its release, Pong consistently earned four times more revenue than other coin-operated machines, which resulted in an increase in the number of orders Atari received. This provided Atari with a steady source of income; the company sold the machines at three times the cost of production. By 1973, the company had filled 2,500 orders, and, at the end of 1974, sold more than 8,000 units. The arcade cabinets have since become collector's items with the cocktail-table version being the rarest. Atari eventually sold more than 35,000 units; however, many more imitations were produced by competitors.

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