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Video Game: Pong

The Grandpappy of Video Games.

"Avoid missing ball for high score."
— The complete directions for the original arcade game.

Pong is a 1972 video game, the first one released by Atari. You control a paddle that goes along one line in the classic version, up and down. Your opponent has another paddle. You bounce a square ball against the paddle. If your opponent misses, you get a point. If you miss, your opponent gets a point. First to reach 21 wins.

Can be played PvP or against a computer AI (the original arcade machine, however, was PvP only).

In more detail: Pong, developed by Nolan Bushnell (who would later create the Chuck E. Cheese franchise), is one of the oldest video games. It dates from 1972, making it Older Than The Apple ][. The company that was founded to publish it, Atari, became synonymous with video games for years afterwards. It was also packed with many first-generation consoles, and Atari made a separate console that only played the game.

Pong is often thought of as "the first video game ever", but this is untrue for one, the Magnavox Odyssey debuted earlier in 1972 (and had been in development since 1968). Before that, it gets pretty complicated and still challenged due to varying opinions of what constitutes a Video Game the very first is either Spacewar! (1962), Tennis For Two (1958), OXO (1952), or the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device (1947). It was, however, the game that started the video game industry.

Everything aside, Pong was the first game to be successful enough for people outside the (then extremely small) geek culture to know about its existence. And for those of you wondering, the Atari logo is two people playing tennis, a reference to their flagship game.


Pong provides examples of:

  • Compilation Re-release: Video Olympics for the Atari 2600 is the oldest example in video game history, being one of the 2600's nine launch titles in 1977. It includes Pong, Super Pong, Pong Doubles, and Quadrapong, along with a few other of Atari's early arcade games.
  • Follow the Leader: Given it was one of the earliest video games ever made, and certainly the first one to achieve success, Pong ended up becoming one of the most heavily cloned video games of its day. There were dozens of mini-"consoles" made which featured variations of the game (i.e. Tournament 1000 by Unisonic, APF TV Fun, the Wonder Wizard, the Radioshack TV Scoreboard, Sears Super Pong Tele Game, Colorsport VIII, the Ricochet, TV-4 4-Way Video Game, Volley VI, Coleco Telestar/Telestar Arcade, etc.) Even Nintendo's very first game device, Color TV Game 6, was a Pong clone. Even the Fairchild Channel F and RCA Studio II, the first game systems to use cartridges, had a Pong game made for them.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: There is nothing here even resembling a plot. But the game still got popular.
    • Though this hasn't stopped a few devoted fans from making their own Pong fanfiction.
  • Player Versus Player
  • Product Facelift: Magnavox made a bunch of their own variations of Pong consoles, such as the Magnavox Odyssey 4000.
  • Scoring Points
  • Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Possibly the lowest out of any game ever made.
  • Top-Down View: Pong is basically top-view tennis.