In History: The first ever video game console

The console consisted of an oblong box which could be plugged into a TV. It was connected to two rectangular controllers with dials, which players could twist to control the game play.

By today’s gaming standards, the Odyssey was pretty basic. It lacked any sound capability, was powered by batteries and the machine could not actually keep score, relying on the players themselves to remember how they were doing.

Back to the future

The graphics were primitive too. It could only produce a selection of white squares and lines on an all-black background. So, the company developed a series of plastic overlays that could be stuck to the front of a TV screen via static electricity in order to create the game’s colour visuals. They also developed a light gun, which Tomorrow’s World’s presenter Baxter can be seen brandishing in a slightly menacing way at his fellow competitor, to target moving dots on the screen for a game called Shooting Gallery.

While it may seem rudimentary now, the technology – and the idea of bringing video gaming directly into people’s homes – was transformative. Its simplistic design and minimal graphics turned out to be a strength. Because it was easy to understand and play, it meant almost anyone could use it. Players were captivated by the novelty of being able to control a game on their own TVs.

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