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Timeline: Video Games

Part II: 1975-1984

by Amanda Kudler
1975 1978 1981 1983 Next: 1985-1994
1975

Atari's Pong is released with help from Sears Roebuck, which finances the production of 150,000 units. It becomes the hottest selling Christmas present. Sears sells the product exclusively, with the Sears Tele-Games logo.

Gunfight, the first "computer" game is released. It is the first game to use a microprocessor instead of hardwired solid-state circuits.

1976

Coleco releases its first home video-game console called Telstar.

Fairfield Camera & Instrument debuts its Video Entertainment System which is known later as Channel F. The first programmable (cartridge-based) home game console, it allowed users to change games by switching cartridges that resembled 8-track audio tapes.

1977

Atari introduces its first cartridge-based home video system called the Video Computer System which later becomes known as the Atari 2600. It retails for $249.95.

1978

The trackball makes its entrance into the video-game industry as the controller in Atari's new arcade game Football.

Midway introduces Space Invaders into arcades. It is the first arcade game that tracks and displays high scores.

Atari attempts to enter the computer industry to compete with Apple. The product is not taken seriously, and the Atari 400 and 800 are taken from the market.

1979

Atari develops a handheld console that displays holograms. Named "Cosmos," this product was never released.

Asteroids is the first game to allow high scorers to enter three character initials to be stored in the machine.

1980

Mattel's Intelivision debuts and is the first real competitor of the Atari 2600. It has better graphics than Atari's 2600, but a higher retail price ($299).

Activision becomes the first third-party video game vendor. The company is created by Atari programmers who want to receive individual credit for creating Atari's video games.

Battlezone is first 3-D game ever created. It is set in a virtual battlefield and was later enhanced by the U.S. government for training exercises.

300,000 units of Pac-Man are released worldwide by Namco.

Defender, the first game incorporating a "virtual world" is introduced. The game uses a "radar" scope at the top of the screen to inform users of the surroundings since the screen is too small to display all of the action.

1981

Arnie Katz and Bill Kunkel found the first video-game magazine, Electronic Games.

1982

Atari releases the Atari 5200 to compete with Coleco's Colecovision.

1983

Cinematronics debuts Rick Dyer's Dragon Lair, the first video game to feature laser-disc technology.

The Commodore 64 is introduced. It is the most powerful video-game console to date and the least expensive.

Nintendo introduces the Famicom in Japan—later known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the U.S. Since Atari controls such a large percentage of the market, they do not plan to market the product in the U.S. Instead the company offers Atari the rights to distribute the product in the U.S. These plans fall through and Americans do not see Nintendo until 1985.



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Between 1973 and February 2008, 129 inmates on death row were exonerated and freed.

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