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Video Game Systems from the 70s

By Edited Nov 14, 2016 2 10

These are just a few of the many different video game systems that were released in the 70s. Maybe you'll consider these to be lame but in their day they were the best form of home gaming entertainment. And for many, they sure beat playing with antiquated Fisher Price toys.

Fairchild Channel F

 

Channel F


The Fairchild was released in 1976 and was the first programmable home console. Even then it retailed for $169.95. This console was also the first to allow players to play directly against the computer. The Fairchild could produce sound from the unit itself or through the television. The controllers were simple joysticks that had eight different movement options and you could pull up and twist the top portion for added in game effects.

Not long after the Fairchild was released, Atari released an updated system that took over sales. In 1979 another company bought the rights and released a second version of the console, offering only six new games. The Channel F System II didn't provide much competition and didn't last long.

RCA Studio II

RCA Studio II

This console was released in '76 or '77 for $149.95. There was no volume control, no handheld controllers and the games were in black and white. Even though it was cheaper than most other consoles at the release date, those three pitfalls resulted in it being poorly received. The console had five built in games: Patterns, Freeway, Doodle, Bowling and Addition. The RCA Studio II was discontinued in 1979, only a few years after its release.

Magnavox Odyssey

Odyssey 100

There were nine different versions of the Odyssey released in the 1970s: the original, 100 (pictured), 200, 300, 400, 500, 2000, 3000, and 4000. The units did not have detachable controllers and the games were stored on the unit itself. Each version was a slight upgrade over the previous versions.

The Magnavox Odyssey was the very first home video game console. The original unit was sold for $100 and moved 80,000 units before Christmas. Sales lagged after that so they dropped the price and sold another 250,000 units. This original console was sold with a ton of accessories including six games. The original Odyssey had no sound and was powered by batteries. A prototype is currently on display at the Smithsonian.

The Odyssey 100 was so basic that there was no on-screen scoring for its two games: hockey and tennis. Players kept score by moving sliders up and down a track on the actual console. The 200 upgraded the 100 slightly by offering one extra game and some on-screen scoring. Subsequent releases would employ the same minor upgrades.

All of the Odyssey systems used Texas Instruments chips to power their games. The final version of the Odyssey, the 4000, featured detachable joysticks, eight games and color graphics.

Atari Pong

Atari Pong

The Pong arcade game (coin operated game) was a huge success. Atari engineers began to develop a home version soon after its release. The console was incredibly simple. It only played the game Pong, had a built in speaker, and had two knobs (the controls) affixed to the unit. This original price of this console was $199 and it was sold through Sears under their Tele-Games brand.

Super Pong: To capitalize on the success of the original Pong system, Atari released Super Pong a year later. The main upgrade here is that Super Pong offered four different games instead of just one.

Wonder Wizard 7702

Wonder Wizard

General Home Product sold this console that was basically an Odyssey 300 in a different case. Magnavox even manufactured this system. The small switches you see in the middle of the console were used to change the settings within each game. The knobs on either side were used as controls as well. It isn't easy to find Wonder Wizard systems out there but if you check forums and collectibles websites you may be able to get them in great condition.

Coleco Telstar

Caleco Telstar

There were a total of 9 different models branded as Telstar that were actually marketed. The first version played three different games with three difficulty levels for each but was essentially a Pong-themed game. Coleco sold over one million of these consoles and also sold a ton of the 'Classic' version. Subsequent versions of the system added more games and a color display.

 

These systems may be old, but these video game systems from the 1970s were fun and provided a foundation for all other future consoles.

 

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Comments

Sep 12, 2011 2:17pm
jimformation
Nice! I didn't know there were so many options. Who needs a PS3!?
Sep 13, 2011 11:15am
javrsmith
I remember similar units, even hand held games.
Sep 13, 2011 11:28am
philbechtel
If you search, you can also find some people who have added tiny screens to make these old systems into hand-hald systems. Crazy.
Sep 14, 2011 10:08pm
rskeller69
The Telstar was our first video game console. We were behind the times when we finally got our Atari. By then, we were drooling over Colecovision.
Sep 18, 2011 10:38pm
joystickenvy
We had one of those pong games, but our first real console was the Atari 2600. Fun trip down memory lane. I'm working on a lens on classic RPGs, I know there was a primitive rpgish game for the atari, but not sure if any of these old consoles had any games that could be called rpgs....I expect they were mostly still in the text era on computers in the 70s.
Sep 21, 2011 4:01am
thisjustin
great article, i remember Atari Pong
Sep 21, 2011 8:38pm
macolom
Wow, just think how our childs will talk about all those "old" PS3s and whatnot!
Sep 21, 2011 8:38pm
macolom
Wow, just think how our childs will talk about all those "old" PS3s and whatnot!
Sep 23, 2011 4:19pm
Emas
I really love the colors of these consoles, so unique and interesting, especially when compared to today's Black or White options.
Sep 25, 2011 1:11pm
danmont
My first video game was the Atari but from the 90s :)
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