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Happy 40th birthday, Pong

Posted by Jack Pickell  November 29, 2012 11:50 AM

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Jack Pickell, Boston.com Staff

Working versions of Pong and Pong Doubles at the American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia, New Hampshire. Pong, one of the original video games, debuted 40 years ago, on Nov. 29, 1972.

Gamers of today sit down on their sofas, fire up their tried-and-true Xbox 360 or their brand-spanking new Wii U, and get instantly caught up in the sophisticated game-play and stunningly realistic graphics of titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4, and Assassin's Creed III.

How far we've come from two little lines and one moving dot.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the granddaddy of video games -- Pong. Atari's coin-operated version of the game debuted at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, Calif. on this date back in 1972.

Pong quickly took its place along the rows of pinball machines at arcades everywhere. During the mid-'70s, Pong successfully expanded from arcade attraction to living room fixture as home versions of Pong machines were high on little gamers' letters to Santa Claus.

We all know what happened from there. Pong eventually had to make room in the arcade rows for games with deeper concepts and slightly better graphics, like Space Invaders and Missile Command, and single-game home units were eclipsed by systems like the Atari 2600 and Mattel's underrated Intellivision. And that was just the beginning.

Pong still exists. It's readily available to play online (just Google it), and if you know where to look, you can still find a rare working version of the now-40-year-old coin-op machine.

One such place is the amazing American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM) located at Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire -- a fully working arcade, filled with vintage games, including some of the world’s rarest, and all in great working order.

Boston.com ran a feature on ACAM about a year ago. Read the article and check out the photo gallery of the vintage games.

Jack Pickell is a Senior News Content Producer at Boston.com, once owned a Pong game, and is still saving up to buy a vintage Donkey Kong coin-op machine. He can be reached at jpickell@boston.com.

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