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My Favorite Invention – The Magnavox Odyssey

David Ward

Law Clerk – Summer 2020

My Favorite Invention – The Magnavox Odyssey

Few people today know of the Magnavox Odyssey, despite it being the first ever commercial home video-game console. When people think of the first video game, they usually think of Pong and Atari, but did you know that Pong actually copied the Magnavox Odyssey’s Table Tennis game?

Indeed, the Odyssey console had a game called Table Tennis that the founders of Atari used as a “training exercise” to produce Pong. Of course, being a smart and proactive company, Magnavox had a patent and sued for infringement. Magnavox eventually received a $1.5 million settlement (amongst other things) from Atari in exchange for a license.

Over the course of the next 15 years, Magnavox continued to use its patent to win more than $100 million dollars in the courts. However, the true genius of the Magnavox Odyssey blossomed into what is now an entire industry, which is why it is one of the most important inventions in recent memory.

The commercial video game industry in the United States alone is now valued at $18.4 billion dollars, with over $230 billion in revenue, and employs nearly a quarter of a million people. And it all began with the Magnavox Odyssey!