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Magnavox Odyssey pro-mo film


pacman000
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The music is really something. Reminds me of the Wii's menu tunes.

 

I was wondering where one would see this ... the TV is black and white, and the rig predates VCRs by a decade or more. It's on the description, of course ...

 

Rare 1972 promotional film for the original Magnavox Odyssey video game system. This super-8 film was distributed to TV dealers in Magi-Cartridge film-loop format, and could be viewed on a special display device in the dealer showroom.

 

So many barriers to getting this set up!! It's easy to see why the Atari VCS was much more desirable.

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So many barriers to getting this set up!! It's easy to see why the Atari VCS was much more desirable.

There is 5 years between the Odyssey and the VCS.

In fact, the Odyssey had been discontinued for 2 years when the VCS came out.

You're coampring potatoes and coconuts here. The time had changed, and if the VCS had so much success it's because Magnavox pioneered selling a video game system. Atari benefited from their mistakes to sell it better.

Edited by CatPix
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You're right of course ... but what a difference five years makes! I wonder what VR will look like in five years.

Yep, especially at the time.

 

It's odd how little games have evolved in those last 10 years. I mean, sure they get a little better, and f you compared the bet-looking games of 10 years back with the best-looking one of today, you'll see a difference... but would it be a notable, jarring, mindblowind difference? I think not. Silent Hill 3 still blast me how gorgeous it looks, especially the faces on the PC version, and it's a 14 years old game.

sh32009-09-1121-52-11-zoiw.jpg

 

Take it back to 1972, and you went to the Odyssey to the NES and Master System. Mindblowing!

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...

So many barriers to getting this set up!! It's easy to see why the Atari VCS was much more desirable.

. What do you mean by barriers? [Nevermind, I know what you mean.]

 

Atari didn't consider the VCS a success until the Space Invaders cartridge came out. They nearly discontinued the VCS after a couple of years of disappointing sales.

 

What surprised me, when I first saw the original Odyssey is that players have two axis of movement. Of course all the home pong clones were based on the arcade game. That "English" control knob was like cheating; I thought it might rotate the paddle.

Edited by mr_me
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I would have to re-watch the video to catch them all, but here are some barriers to entry compared to later systems like VCS, let alone today:

 

- need a screwdriver to set it up (recent video reviews of the Sega Flashback whine about this, too)

- not mentioned in the video, but screen burn-in was a real risk which impacted uptake of later systems (and it's back again for OLED screens including phones)

- need overlays for everything

- etch a sketch style knobs for each axis of motion instead of more intuitive direct control with joystick or trackball

- screen overlays

- intimidating-looking cartridges (no big friendly labels)

- only available at Magnavox dealership

- complex enough to require this lengthy training film

- implication that video games are only worth playing on rainy or freezing days as an alternative to three channels of broadcast television

- graphics limited to low resolution white blobs

 

I was always interested in video games, but it would be hard summoning up thrills for this package. And once your parents splashed out for this expensive thing, it could be hard to get them to bite a second time for Odyssey 2 or Atari VCS.

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Our Radio Shack pong system was awesome; I would have liked it to have those etch-a-sketch controls. The Odyssey does seem primitive without automatic scoring or rules. But the graphics are not much different than the millions of pong clones that followed.

 

Hooking up the Odyssey is not much different than any second generation console. Batteries would be a pain; our pong system took batteries but we also had an AC adapter. The short promo film is not a requirement. No overlay required to play pong on the Odyssey or the shooting games.

 

Screen burn in was an issue later; don't think they were aware of it in 1972. The automatic display blanking in the Intellivision was actually a selling feature in 1980. Burn-in was overexagerated just as it is today with cell phones. I heard the Magnavox dealers were a problem. The story was that salespeople told customers the Odyssey only worked with Magnavox televisions. Considering that a colour TV might have cost over $500 in 1972, a $99 Odyssey is not that expensive, much less than an Atari VCS. [or compare with the first calculators or VCRs of the 1970s that would have cost thousands]

Edited by mr_me
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Dude -- there's no need to litigate this, the Odyssey's day has come and gone long ago. I missed it the first time around because I was too busy being a small child.

 

I'm looking at it with modern eyes, where there is a ton of competition and I can choose something else if just one dumb thing turns me off.

 

iPhone X has that dumb notch and costs too much. Next!

 

XboneX is $500 and the games take up a ton of storage space. Next!

 

"That" AtariBox is crowdfunded and brings nothing special to the table. Next!

 

Playstation VR has too many wires and looks like it would hurt my neck, if not my stomach. Next!

 

...should I go on?

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Although primitive, whenever I write professionally about the Odyssey, I'm always quick to point out how much of a modern console form factor it predicted. Detachable controllers, interchangeable games, different genres, etc. The darn thing even had a light gun. Sure, it was extremely limited and the interchangeable cartridge thing was superficial (they were more like selector switches), but it's uncanny how much Baer and company got right the first time out. Compare that to something like the RCA Studio II, which came out in 1977, and how much that got wrong so many years later.

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Yes, I was impressed with the detachable controllers; but their follow-up Odyssey systems looked more like the RCA Studio II.

 

What is an original Odyssey worth today. There's one on ebay now for about $1000.

 

...

I was wondering where one would see this ... the TV is black and white, and the rig predates VCRs by a decade or more. It's on the description, of course ...

 

So many barriers to getting this set up!! It's easy to see why the Atari VCS was much more desirable.

I was thinking you meant barriers to get people to watch the promo film back in 1972. Edited by mr_me
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I was thinking you meant barriers to get people to watch the promo film back in 1972.

Oh sure, that too ... I doubt many people saw that Super8 film in the back room at the Magnavox dealership. I am almost certain that I have never set foot in such a place.

 

It's a cool piece of history about a very important system.

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Yep, especially at the time.

 

It's odd how little games have evolved in those last 10 years. I mean, sure they get a little better, and f you compared the bet-looking games of 10 years back with the best-looking one of today, you'll see a difference... but would it be a notable, jarring, mindblowind difference? I think not. Silent Hill 3 still blast me how gorgeous it looks, especially the faces on the PC version, and it's a 14 years old game.

 

Take it back to 1972, and you went to the Odyssey to the NES and Master System. Mindblowing!

 

post-10940-0-07167200-1510355188.png

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There is 5 years between the Odyssey and the VCS.

In fact, the Odyssey had been discontinued for 2 years when the VCS came out.

You're coampring potatoes and coconuts here. The time had changed, and if the VCS had so much success it's because Magnavox pioneered selling a video game system. Atari benefited from their mistakes to sell it better.

I thought the VCS was a success taking FAIRCHILDS Ideas and selling itself to Warner? Considering the current console industry came from the channel F.

 

. What do you mean by barriers? [Nevermind, I know what you mean.]

 

Atari didn't consider the VCS a success until the Space Invaders cartridge came out. They nearly discontinued the VCS after a couple of years of disappointing sales.

 

What surprised me, when I first saw the original Odyssey is that players have two axis of movement. Of course all the home pong clones were based on the arcade game. That "English" control knob was like cheating; I thought it might rotate the paddle.

 

I thought Space Invaders made them wait, and it was Asteroids (that made them more money on console and arcade) was what had them continue on? (and over publish space games)

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The VCS and Channel F were in development at the same time.

 

Magnavox sued Atari for copying Odyssey Tennis. Atari agreed to give Magnavox the rights to everything they produced in 1976, so the VCS's release was held off till 1977. It''s hard to run a startup, and after a lawsuit Atari didn't have the resources to produce the VCS, so Atari sold to Warner to get the money to release their already developed console.

 

(Hopefully that's still all correct; it's been awhile since I reviewed the history on all this.)

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I thought the VCS was a success taking FAIRCHILDS Ideas and selling itself to Warner? Considering the current console industry came from the channel F.

 

It start with the Channel F being the first CPU-and-cart based video game system, but the timeframe is too short for Atari to have copied Fairchild. Certainly Atari had the whole year 1976 to see how Fairchild sold their console and get feedback on what was working and what wasn't, but not enough to make a whole console from scratch.

The most notable influence the Channel F might have had on the VCS was the decision to remove the planned built-in speakers from the VCS in favor of transmissing the sound from the RF connection.

As far as I know, this decision was made very late in the VCS conception, it's not hard to imagine that Atari engineers saw that people were complaining about the internal, not-muteable and not tuneable sound speaker of he Channel F, and decided to remove the same feature on the VCS.

But the VCS itself was too advanced in development for the Channel F to have a definitive influence on the VCS - this was 1976, remember. CPU makers were still used to deal with IBM, DEC and other multi-million industrial companies, not with consumer-grade focused companies. Designing custom chips like the TIA wasn't a simple task as there was no ASIC or other reprogrammable chip. You wouldn't make a competent system overnight.

Edited by CatPix
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The VCS and Channel F were in development at the same time.

 

Magnavox sued Atari for copying Odyssey Tennis. Atari agreed to give Magnavox the rights to everything they produced in 1976, so the VCS's release was held off till 1977. It''s hard to run a startup, and after a lawsuit Atari didn't have the resources to produce the VCS, so Atari sold to Warner to get the money to release their already developed console.

 

(Hopefully that's still all correct; it's been awhile since I reviewed the history on all this.)

 

But from what I gather the Channel F is why the 2600-VCS even has game cartridges according to older news paper articles (the few that had both those systems mentioned at the same time for like a year.)

Considering Atari "rushed" the 2600 out before other cartridge system went ont he market well.

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It start with the Channel F being the first CPU-and-cart based video game system, but the timeframe is too short for Atari to have copied Fairchild. Certainly Atari had the whole year 1976 to see how Fairchild sold their console and get feedback on what was working and what wasn't, but not enough to make a whole console from scratch.

The most notable influence the Channel F might have had on the VCS was the decision to remove the planned built-in speakers from the VCS in favor of transmissing the sound from the RF connection.

As far as I know, this decision was made very late in the VCS conception, it's not hard to imagine that Atari engineers saw that people were complaining about the internal, not-muteable and not tuneable sound speaker of he Channel F, and decided to remove the same feature on the VCS.

But the VCS itself was too advanced in development for the Channel F to have a definitive influence on the VCS - this was 1976, remember. CPU makers were still used to deal with IBM, DEC and other multi-million industrial companies, not with consumer-grade focused companies. Designing custom chips like the TIA wasn't a simple task as there was no ASIC or other reprogrammable chip. You wouldn't make a competent system overnight.

 

But I'm focusing more on the cartridge slot and the cpu itself, surely Atari didn't have those ready before then? Especially with the comments about "rushing" before more cartridge based systems came in?

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But from what I gather the Channel F is why the 2600-VCS even has game cartridges according to older news paper articles (the few that had both those systems mentioned at the same time for like a year.)

Considering Atari "rushed" the 2600 out before other cartridge system went ont he market well.

Possible, but most of what I've read suggests the 2600's cart slot was inspired by Pong-on-a-Chip-in-a-Cart systems. Atari was even planning one of their own: http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/dedicated/gamebrain/

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I was thinking the opposite, how cool, playing games on your home TV, it's like the future.

 

I vividly remember the first the I saw an Atari 2600 in action during a sleepover at my cousin's house. It was truly mind blowing!!! I mean, how often do you get to experience a brand new form of entertainment for the first time? It really was the future, and technical innovations for this new medium were around every corner. It was all new and it was all EXCITING.

 

Sadly, we seem to be in an era of diminishing returns and very little about the video game landscape seems awe-inspiring or particularly innovative. Example: with the new Xbox One X, you can play the same exact games but with a slight graphical and performance improvement… and at only TWICE the price! No thanks! Just wake me up when we have Star Trek-style Holodecks : )

 

 

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The Fairchild Channel F gets too much credit for the cartridge idea. Word processor systems were distributing software on rom cards before the channel F. Everyone was racing towards microprocessor based game systems, the benefit being programming different games in software. There really was no alternative to ROM cards.

 

I remember the first time I saw an Atari 2600; I thought it looked like crap compared to what I saw in the arcades. Home consoles were a compromise to playing arcade games and would be through mid-1980.

 

edit:

And I think the Magnavox Atari suit was not over copying Pong but was over the Sanders video game patent. Any television game that had one object having some sort of collision with another object violated the patent. Everyone had to pay Magnavox; they made more money from the patent than selling Odysseys.

Edited by mr_me
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