How Video Games Invaded The Home TV Set – Chapter 10

Calling All TV Set Manufacturers!

It finally dawned on me that a home TV game product might be the natural province of television set manufacturers. The circuitry, components and assembly techniques required for a home TV game were certainly close to those used in a TV receiver. To pursue this idea, I met repeatedly with Louis Etlinger. We started the ball rolling by inviting representatives of various US television set manufacturers to come to Nashua for demonstrations. Yes, there were US TV set manufacturers then. It may seem hard to believe now, but their brands dominated the US TV set market. It wasn’t until the seventies that the second generation managers – the new financial wizards – running our consumer electronics companies decided to put their money into car rentals and similar business, effectively handing the US consumer electronics industry to the Japanese.

RCA engineers and marketing people were the first to come up in February of 1969. They were followed over the next few months by Zenith, Sylvania, GE, Motorola, Warwick (Sears Roebuck’s TV set suppliers) and Magnavox, all of them substantial US TV set manufacturers at that time.

The reaction to our demos of the Brown Box and the accessories was uniformly positive: Everyone agreed that playing games on a home TV set was an interesting concept. But only RCA proceeded to negotiate a licensing agreement. That was in the spring of 1969; after months of working on the details of the agreement these negotiations also fell apart. Big, arrogant RCA figured they could snooker us … we were back to where we started.

And Now We’re Into 1970

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