When was the very first video game console invented?

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While working for a defense contractor, Ralph Baer decided to create an innovative application for the television:  a way for people to use it to play games.  He teamed with Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch between 1967 and 1969 to create a number of prototypes for this game machine.  The game system nicknamed the "Brown Box" was released in 1972 as the first commercial console by Magnavox and was called the Magnavox Odyssey.  The Odyssey only sold around 350,000 copies before being discontinued in 1975.  Despite the lack of marketing and sales success of the first video game console, the idea paved the way for remarkable success from its immediate predecessors.  The Atari Video Console System, released in 1977, was the first game cartridge based system.  Renamed the Atari 2600, over 30 million units have been sold to date.  By 1985, a Japanese playing card company named Nintendo designed and sold the most successful gaming console in history.

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In 1966, Ralph Baer, a television engineer by profession, sketched the design for the first video game console. It was to be used interactively with a television set; it was then called the "brown box." In other words, Baer's Brown Box (later renamed Odyssey) is credited with being the first video game console, and it operated a console-box-controlled, television implemented video game.

Baer and Sanders Associates (his employer and research sponsor) commercialized the Brown Box console--meaning manufactured and marketed--and successfully recruited Magnavox as their first licensee to further develop the commercialization of the Brown Box as the Magnavox Odyssey. Later Atari, the inventor of the highly popular Pong console-controlled video game, became Sanders Associates' second licensee after losing a Magnavox patent infringement law suit.

So, the very first video console was designed in 1966, with the prototype Brown Box built in 1967-68, by television engineer and German immigrant Ralph Baer. The first Brown Box patent application was submitted in 1971 and granted in 1973. Sanders Associates, with Baer and his colleagues, William Harrison and William Rusch, inaugurated a license agreement with Magnavox in 1971, and Magnavox first re-released the Brown Box as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 (a year before the 1973 patent was granted).

Earlier, William Higinbotham, working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, invented Tennis for Two, the first interactive computer game (as opposed to Baer's later television-interactive console-controlled video game). Had Tennis for Two been commercialized as successfully as Baer's Brown Box had been through Magnavox, the unfolding of the interactive electronic game market may have taken a different turn.

In 1966, Ralph Baer, a television engineer by profession, sketched the design for the first video game console. It was to be used interactively with a television set; it was then called the "brown box." In other words, Baer's Brown Box is credited with being the first video game console, and it operated an interactive console-box-controlled, television implemented video game. Baer and Sanders Associates (his employer and research sponsor) commercialized the Brown Box console--meaning manufactured and marketed--and successfully recruited Magnavox as their first licensee to further develop the commercialization of the Brown Box as the Magnavox Odyssey. Later Atari, the inventor of the highly popular "Pong" console-controlled video game, became Sanders Associates' second licensee after losing a Magnavox patent infringement law suit.

So, the very first video console was designed in 1966, with the prototype Brown Box built in 1967-68, by television engineer and German immigrant Ralph Baer. The first Brown Box patent application was submitted in 1971 and granted in 1973. Sanders Associates, with Baer and his colleagues, William Harrison and William Rusch, inaugurated a license agreement with Magnavox in 1971, and Magnavox first re-released the Brown Box as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 (a year before the 1973 patent was granted). Earlier, William Higinbotham, working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, invented "Tennis for Two," the first interactive computer game (as opposed to Baer's later television-interactive console-controlled video game). Had "Tennis for Two" been commercialized as successfully as Baer's Brown Box had later been through Magnavox, the unfolding of the interactive electronic game market may have taken a different turn.

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