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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • LAKE GARDA, ITALY

That '70s Video Game: 1978

That '70s Video Game: 1978

Continuing on our theme of the ancient-1970s history of consumer electronics, here's my niece and nephew playing with my Fairchild Channel F video game. According to Wikipedia, it was the first ROM cartridge-based video game console, selling for $170 when released in 1976. It was a color system, despite the appearance of the screen. I'd intended using it with my Advent VideoBeam projection TV, but the Channel F's signal wasn't sufficiently up to snuff sync-wise (or something) to satisfy the VideoBeam. Shortly after this, I got an Atari 2600 that worked with it. I myself never really got heavily into video gaming, other than a brief and mild addiction to Atari's Space Invaders and Breakout. Mainly I was just fascinated by the big, colorful graphics whizzing around on the giant VideoBeam screen. This bounce-flash Kodachrome was considerably underexposed, so I had to boost it quite a bit. Oh, and feel free to grab a chocolate from the Whitman's box. View full size.

Middle class

This must have been a fairly well off family in order to afford the game system and to have Whitman chocolates for anyone to grab! I would have killed for either of those back then!

[We were strictly middle-class. My father was 10 years into retirement from grocery-clerking. This was my game system. I was 32, employed full time but still living at home. My mother supplied the chocolates, though. - tterrace]

Box O'Candy

How charming to see this on display. Many is the time I would visit aunts, uncles, and other relatives to see this on a coffee table, end table, or other pretty side table. Guests were always invited to "take a piece," or the box was passed around to all. We always had a box handy for friends and guests. What happened to this lovely tradition?

According to the CPI

According to the CPI inflation calculator, that $170 video game would cost $676.85 in today's money.

Baby Huey

Boy! This photo takes me back to my early teens! I had a friend named John (known as “Baby Huey” to us) who always had all the latest toys and gadgets. He had the first Atari video game console and we spent hour upon hour playing Pong. At the time, it was pretty amazing, but just a glimpse of what the next 25+ years would hold!

Pong

Sometime in the 1970s we started selling the "Pong" video game by Atari. Sales were brisk and profitable while it was scarce and as availability increased, our margins fell. Along comes a local electronics distributor with a similar game under the Sharp label. It was not the Sharp Company we know and love. It seemed a few years before he had licensed the name Sharp to be used on a line of cheap watches he was importing. The so called Sharp Table Tennis game was about half the cost of the Pong. So we placed an order, got the goods and normal payment terms. The terminals worked well and we were back to making money in the game business. Several weeks later we were visited by an agent of the FCC, who unbeknownst to us had bought a few of the games from several dealers. It seems that the Importer neglected to get FCC approval for the game, I guessed these games somehow broadcast a signal and had to be regulated. The seller came to us and picked up the remaining units which eventually were destroyed.

'70s "style"

I can't help thinking that '70s style was anything but. The colors (shirts, carpet, cushion), the cuts (clothing as well as hair) ... yikes!

Thank god my parents were kind of conservative in that respect. Saved me from appearing on a lot of embarrassing photos with a lot of embarrassing apparel ... and by my adolescent 1980s my parents' endeavour had given me enough self-esteem that I didn't feel the need to get on every fashion bandwagon. More embarrassing photos that never happened (remember shoulder pads and leather ties?).

 
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