[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Odyssey Manual

May 28th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Magnavox Odyssey Manual Cover Scan - 1972“We’ve got a lot of space here, Fred, and I’m tired.” [stamps 7 times] “Fixed.”

Forty years ago, Magnavox lifted the veil on the world’s first commercial video game console, the Odyssey. Designed to work with a home TV set, the Odyssey blazed a trail that every game console follows today.

While the Odyssey had first been revealed to the press in April 1972, the Odyssey reached the market at $99.99 (about $548 in today’s dollars) in August of that year.

Magnavox’s console relied on technology originally developed by Ralph Baer, Bill Harrison, and Bill Rusch at Sanders Associates in the mid- to late 1960s. Baer’s invention, together with Atari’s work during the same period, founded an industry.

Even though I’ve been writing about the work of Ralph Baer for over five years now, I still am amazed that the commercial video game console is now 40 years old. But 40 years is a long time in technology, and it’s easy to see how we’ve come so far if you keep that time scale in mind.

By the way — in honor of this anniversary, I recently took apart an Odyssey console for PC World. You can read about that adventure in another post.

[ From Odyssey Installation and Game Rules, circa 1972, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played an original Magnavox Odyssey console? Describe how you felt about the experience.

3 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Odyssey Manual”

  1. Matt Says:

    About 10 years ago I picked up one of these at a garage sale for $5. It was complete with the original box, all of the game pieces and the TV overlays in both 13″ and 19″ sizes. To me it was more board game with the video game portion only adding to the board game experience. I don’t know if I ever could have gotten used to the controls, which were awkward to say the least. It did seem more modern than Pong to me though.

  2. Kouban Says:

    Closest I’ve come is seeing an Odyssey 200 at the e-cycling place where I volunteer.

  3. Player1 Says:

    Hi Benj
    I still have an Odyssey 2100 from Philips (or European Odyssey) which my father gave me in the late 70ies. If you are interested I could see if the manual is still in the box and make scans of it.

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