Pong wasn’t the first commercial video game but it sure was the most successful, ushering in the first generation of electronic arcade games. Developed by video game guru Nolan Bushnell, Pong became the foundation for Bushnell’s legendary Atari company and ground zero for an industry about to explode.

Everything was simple in Pong. The playfield was a stylized table tennis environment with two opposing bars on each side of the screen, separated by a white line down the middle, that bandied a white dot back and forth. Players only had to maneuver their white bar up and down the screen to volley the “ball” back to the other side. Missing the ball gave your opponent a point.

Bushnell and his associate, Al Alcorn, produced a Pong console and installed it in a Southern California bar to test its marketability. The bar owner soon reported that the machine had stopped working but when Bushnell examined it, he found not a software or a hardware glitch but an overflowing coin collection basket that had gummed up the works. The first Pong game was literally awash in money – and it wouldn’t be the last.

The newly-formed Atari started manufacturing Pong consoles as quickly as they could churn them out, trying to meet the overwhelming demand for the groundbreaking game across the country. It was only the beginning and soon enough, Atari became an empire and the arcade game industry became a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Descendants of Pong were as popular as the original game and were available both in arcades and home gaming systems. Pong is still a popular collector’s item today and truly devoted fans proudly display a vintage Atari cartridge system next to the more modern versions of video entertainment.

If you remember the buzz that erupted about this new and unique game, maybe even lined up at the arcade, quarters in hand, to try your luck at Pong, we would love to hear all of your recollections of this iconic arcade game in our comments section below.

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