Monday, December 8, 2014

THE CONSOLE ODYSSEY ENDS FOR RALPH

Sony started selling limited special editions of the PlayStation 4 with similarly-colored editions of the PlayStation 4’s controller, camera, vertical stand and headset over the weekend to celebrate the game machines 20th anniversary. 

Frankly, I missed the console wars of the 90's. Never owned a Nintendo, Sega, Saturn. Frankly, I do not even recall much top 40 music of the period.  I was a computer gamer. Give me a keyboard and a mouse, a fast graphic card and a decent modem connection and I was set! It was not until 2001, with the release of the X-Box that I purchased my first console. Even than what attracted me was not the gaming but the modding. It was my first Apple TV of sorts!

Whether you were a computer, console or arcade gamer you might be saddened to know that Ralph Baer, who invented, patented and released the first television videogame console passed away on Saturday.

Baers invention of games that could be played on a consumer television directly led to the creation of today’s multi-billion-dollar home video game industry. In 1972  his invention was licensed to the television company Magnavox, which released it as “Odyssey. I never owned one by my cousin Paul did. We played this simple tennis game for hours.  That game was later inspired Atari's first game - Pong.

O yea, Atari was sued for copyright infringement, and ended up sharing profits with Baers.

Just because I am a bit of a geek and feeling old, I decided to do a little research on my own to determine how far we have come since the Odyssey by comparing it to my kids X-Box One.

Off the top I was impressed with it in 1971 as the boys are today with their favorite console. However that is where the equality ends. The Odyssey did not have the ability to play a Blue-Ray, CD, DVD or even an 8-Track. It had no storage. It was an analog device so it did not contain a CPU or RAM, and it certainly was not HDMI compatible. However, in 1971, owning one was probably cooler than owning an X-Box One is today.

Wired has a great story chronicling Baer's life and accomplishments.

Sony, 20 years sounds great but the grand daddy of the consoles was the Odessey and that is an incredible 43 years old.

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