Where Gaming Began: Pong Takes A Bow

FILE - In this July 2009 file picture , German-American game developer Ralph Baer shows the prototype of the first games console, invented by him during a press conference at the Games Convention Online in Leipzig, Germany. The video game pioneer who created both the precursor to "Pong" and the electronic memory game "Simon" has died. Ralph Baer also was leader of the team that developed the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console. Baer, who was born in Germany and escaped the Holocaust with his family, was a longtime resident of Manchester, New Hampshire. The Goodwin Funeral Home confirmed Monday Dec. 8, 2014 that he died at his home Saturday. He was 92. (AP Photo/dpa,Jens Wolf,File)

(WTNH) Several generations ago, the question kids asked their father was, “hey, Dad, what did you do in the war?”  Fast forward to now, and my teenage sons are asking, “hey, Dad..did you ever play Pong?”

Why yes, my boys.  Yes, I did.  Have a seat, lemme tell you alllll about it.  It was 1973…….

And they’re gone, back in their rooms playing Fallout 3, or some other game where you have to look closely to see if it’s computer animation or real life.  Something that was never a problem with Pong.  Which didn’t mean that it still wasn’t the coolest thing ever at the time.

Now Pong is getting some long overdue love from the gaming community.  Next month at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences will hand out Pioneer Awards, in at least one case posthumously, to the guys at Atari and Odyssey who came up the very first video game.

But back to 1973, when Pong — basically electronic ping pong where players vertically guided virtual paddles to hit a white square back to the other side — began showing up in every arcade and bar.  It was to modern gaming what the stone age is to Google.  But, of course, we didn’t know that, any more than cave men knew about Tweeting.  We were on the cutting edge!  Who needed pinball, when you now had Pong?

The digital world moves so fast, that its history gets deleted like so many floppy disc files.  So cheers to the gaming industry for singing a song to Pong.  Ms. Pacman is undoubtedly waiting in the wings.

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