How Video Games Invaded The Home TV Set – Chapter 16

1973 – Rethinking My Act

After my abortive attempts to peddle my sound unit and the “active” plug-in carts, I was reduced to calling Bob Fritsche frequently so I could keep track of what was happening in Fort Wayne in the video game group. What I heard mostly were sorry tales about selling off the remaining Odyssey inventory – and not much about work going on to come up with next generation designs. Bob Fritsche was fighting for a new product line but he wasn’t getting much support from management.

I had begun tracking several semi-conductor houses, such as Texas Instrument (TI), MOSTechnology, General Instrument (GI) and others to determine the feasibility of using integrated circuit technology cost effectively for home TV games. I used Bob Fritsche as my go between to pass whatever I found out on to Magnavox management and engineering. In particular, the emergence of the P-MOS method for IC fabrication looked like the way to go for a system based on a few chips, or perhaps even a single chip. Clearly, that was the wave of the future. I certainly wasn’t alone in that belief because it became evident in later years that the guys at Atari were thinking along the same line. Their single chip Pong home game for Sears would put them on the map to stay!

During the balance of 1973, I did not see much hope for Magnavox’ success in the video game business. While I wasn’t privy to all that was going on inside that company, I sure didn’t get the feeling that Bob Fritsche, who was struggling to make something of his product area, was getting the support he needed from his management.

Meanwhile, I was occupied with upgrading the technical capabilities of Sanders’ electro optics division. Much of my attention was focused on getting us into the crystal growing business so we could produce materials needed for military arc light pumped lasers. That effort, at least, turned out successfully. Within a year, we were growing usable quantities of yttrium lithium fluoride (YLF) crystals, building laser cavities to house them and getting them to oscillate, i. e. lase … and we were successfully launched into the military laser business!

I wish I could have said that of the video game business.

And Now To 1974

Edit Page