How Video Games Invaded The Home TV Set – Chapter 2

Fast Forward To 1966

In 1966 I was the manager of the Equipment Design Division at Sanders Associates, Inc. You may also recall that Sanders was/is a large R&D and production company working almost exclusively on advanced defense electronics programs. Sanders became a Lockheed company in the mid eighties. Effectively, I was the company’s chief engineer for about four years. There were as many as 500 engineers, technicians and support personnel in my division a one time or another. I was a busy guy.

While we were involved in plenty of CRT display programs, none of the work in my division, or in the rest of the company, for that matter, involved development of broadcast television technology. As for me, ever since early engineering days of TV receiver design at Loral (1950-1951), the TV engineer lurking unused inside of me had been thinking about ways to use a TV set for something other than watching standard broadcasts. After all, I did graduate with a B.S. in television engineering in 1948.

There were about 40 million TV sets in the US homes alone in 1966, to say nothing of many more millions of sets in the rest of the world. They were literally begging to be used for something other than watching commercial television broadcasts!

Once again, thoughts about playing games using an ordinary TV set began to percolate in my mind. During a business trip to New York City, while waiting at a bus terminal for another Sanders engineer to come into town for a meeting with a client, I jotted down some notes on the subject of using ordinary home TV set to play games.

When I got back to my office in New Hampshire on September 1, 1966, I transcribed those notes into a 4-page paper, outlining the idea of playing television games on a home TV set. I listed various types of games that might be playable using the TV set as a display, such as action games, board games, sports games, chase games and others. What I had in mind at the time was to develop a small “game box” that would do neat things and cost, perhaps, twenty-five dollars at retail.

The handwritten notes, page 1/4 The handwritten notes, page 2/4 The handwritten notes, page 3/4 The handwritten notes, page 4/4

The typewritten transcript, page 1/3 The typewritten transcript, page 2/3 The typewritten transcript, page 3/3

I asked Bob Solomon, one of the engineers in my division whom I had recently hired in from Control Data in Minneapolis to read, date and sign the document – standard procedure to establish a legal record. He did that.

Little did I know that this disclosure started the ball rolling which would result in a large home video game industry ! Nor could I have anticipated that this document would surface again after 1974 in federal courts in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and many other places in pursuit of patent infringers … and that a lot of money would change hands as a result of the process begun by that paper.

September 6, 1966 – Genesis!

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