How Video Games Invaded The Home TV Set – Chapter 1


The year was 1949. Television was growing by leaps and bounds in the USA; there were four or five transmitting stations in New York, broadcasting black & white programming from antennas located on top of the Empire State building in down-town Manhattan. I had just come back to New York City after graduation from ATIT in Chicago with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television Engineering. I had been a Radio and TV Technician in New York before World War II and had installed and repaired a few 9 inch and 12 inch RCA television receivers in the early Forties. Now my aim was to design TV receivers. I was to get my wish in an unexpected place.

After graduation, I spent a year-and-a-half designing and building electro-medical equipment in NY. When that proved to be less than challenging, I started looking at newspaper want-ad for TV engineers; finally, I found an ad by a company called Loral. Today, Loral is a giant corporation currently putting hundreds of satellites into the sky. When I interviewed for a job at Loral in 1951, Loral had less than 150 people on board. I became one of them.

Not long after I arrived at Loral, Sam Lackoff, the Chief Engineer, put me and another engineer, Leo Beiser, to work on the design of a home television set. Sam’s instruction to us were: Build the best TV set in the world! Because large TV picture tubes did not exist, we chose a Dutch Philips projection tube system with a 1 inch CRT and very fancy Schmidt optics. Somewhere along the line I suggested that we might include some novel features, like adding some form of TV game! That got the predictable negative reaction, and that was the end of that!

Between Leo Beiser and myself, we designed and built this TV set, every part of it except for the tuner, entirely by ourselves. You might say, we learned a lot about TV receiver engineering the hard way. That experience was not lost on me, even though that TV set never did go into production.

Fast Forward To 1966

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