First Video Game Celebrates 40th Birthday

It might be surprising to learn that Pong has been around for four decades, but game developer Atari announced that the arcade hit officially became 40 years old in late November. Pong, which has sold millions of arcade machines and home consoles, is one of the most widely recognized games in the world today. Although Pong was technically not the very first video game to ever be developed, its success did mark the end of the pinball era.

Pong was introduced to a single game hall in California, and allowed customers to play a single game for a quarter. Prior, gamers had become accustomed to receiving three turns per quarter. The game itself was never meant for audiences in mass, but was rather an engineering experiment. Fortunately, the game’s creator, Allan Alcorn, immediately recognized its potential. While Pong is a simple and repetitive, it was truly unique for its time. From the catchy theme music to the increasing levels of difficulty, Pong quickly became a household name.

Approximately two years after the initial release of Pong arcade machines, Atari developed both a home version and an accompany home video game console. Over the years, more successful titles from Atari and other developers were ported for the home gaming system. Likee other highly successful arcade games of its era, there were multiple Pong sequels. Some of the very first arcade game tournaments centered around Pong, starting a trend that continues to this day.

Eventually, the arcade gaming boom of the 80s came to an end, but Pong’s legacy continues to live on. In popular culture, the game has been referenced dozens of times. The electronic background music that appears in the game has also been sampled in numerous songs. Programming elements used to create Pong helped to create the structure of other games that were released in the 1980s.

Although Pong did not have a glamorous starts, its developer has become one of the most widely successful video game companies in existence. Atari home gaming consoles were as popular in the 80s as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony systems are today. Now that Pong has celebrated its 40th anniversary, Atari looks forward to another 40 years of worldwide recognition.