Magnavox Odyssey Video Game Unit, 1972

Magnavox Odyssey Video Game Unit, 1972

Usage conditions apply
When most people think about the first video game, they think of Pong, the ping-pong arcade game released by Atari in 1972. However, months earlier, Magnavox had released its Magnavox Odyssey, a home video game system based on the “Brown Box,” a prototype invented by Ralph Baer. Additional games and accessories, like a lightgun, were sold in separate packages.
Since the Odyssey had limited graphic capabilities and displayed only a few small white blocks and a vertical line on the screen, Magnavox included translucent color overlays to provide settings and layouts for the games. Perhaps most surprising to modern gamers, the Odyssey also came with nonelectronic game accessories such as dice, decks of cards, play money, and poker chips. These accessories were possibly included to make the Odyssey more like the physical games that existed at the time.
With approximately 350,000 units sold, Magnavox Odyssey was not considered a commercial success, especially in comparison with Pong’s runaway popularity. Among the contributing factors, poor marketing played a large role. Many potential consumers were under the impression—sometimes encouraged by Magnavox salesmen—that Odyssey would only work on Magnavox television sets. Despite these setbacks, Magnavox Odyssey made its mark by starting the video game console industry.
Currently not on view
Object Name
video game system
Date made
Baer, Ralph H.
Magnavox Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 16 1/2 in x 16 1/2 in; 9.525 cm x 41.91 cm x 41.91 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Ralph H. Baer
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Popular Entertainment
Family & Social Life
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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We had the Odyssey game system sold in the early 80's. It was really cool at the time. I am sure my grandkids would think the graphics are boring and the system is too slow since they are used to PlayStation 5 and Xbox. My family and I had lots of good times playing the games. War of the World or something like that had accessories which helped to engage the players even more. The voicebox was the coolest thing we had ever seen. We didn't have computers or anything like it in the house or even at school at that time. I still have the system and games in the original box. For nostalgia sake, I haven't been able to part with it. I keep thinking I will find a way to hook it up to my TV and play it.
Yup, found one in primo shape at a yard sale, really primitive and it took alot of imagination to play the game ..............esp the PONG GAME, but hey it was 1972 or so, what did you expect????
I really love researching about this project and the first video game made. It is a really neat video game system to learn about and how they came up to make it. My grandparents had one when they were kids and they passed it down to me and my siblings and we played it all the time. Its a really great game idk if they make anymore . but yea great time passer really cool !!!
I actually found the Magnavox Odyssey 2 at a flea-market in MS. It was in really good condition and came with a few knock-off games, but were still really fun to play!
We had one of these growing up.. Was a gift and recall small competitions who could turn the dial the fastest to win.

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