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Do not underestimate the power of Magnavox in CD-i

>> Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The return of Magnavox in the videogames market with CD-i was for some people a major event. While we normally associate Philips with the CD-i format, Philips used a lot of knowledge of the Magnavox past with CD-i. Magnavox was the worldwide first manufacturer of the video console with the Odyssey. Even Nintendo started their business by selling Magnavox systems to the Asian market. The role of Magnavox ended with a library full of videogame patents, which generated a lot of money out of licenses including Pong and the lightgun peripheral to second party developers.

Magnavox was acquisited by Philips in 1974, mainly to get feet on the ground in the USA. However, Magnavox was more than just a manufacturer of audio and video, and it's no surprise they put out an early game system called the Odyssey in the States (The Videopac in Europe). While the system might not have been the most advanced system of its time (1), they developed several models (2) and licensed the system to other brands (3). Three aspects applicable on CD-I as well!) Last but not least the Magnavox game system was the start of an important library of patents.

These patents were so significant that later when Philips applied pressure to other companies, concessions were made. For example at one point Philips owned 10% of Activision (the software company). Activision had its roots on the original Atari 2600 unit which really started off the videogame revolution in the US. The Odyssey might have been first, but it was poorly marketed (just like CD-I). The Atari 2600 was the king of the scene, and it was all way before the Nintendo and Sega era. Just think of the history of Donkey Kong …

Something else that might be of high interest is the fact that Nintendo's first venture in the console world was selling the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan, before the company introduced its own consoles. The essence why Philips was granted the use of Nintendo's characters in CD-i games is merely a result of this war of (Magnavox) patents and patent violation, rather than negotiations of the SNES CD-ROM deal.

The importance of Magnavox in the life of Philips CD-i is highly underestimated. To name a few more examples: Magnavox proved that consoles for the home could be designed. Magnavox also won a court case against Nolan Bushnell for patent infringement in Bushnell's design of Pong, as it resembled the tennis game for the Odyssey. The Odyssey was successful enough to support an add-on peripheral, the first-ever commercial "light gun" called the Shooting Gallery. This detected light from the TV screen, however pointing the gun at a nearby light bulb also registered as a "hit".

another one, perhaps way more interesting: Ralph H. Baer (born 1922) is a German-born American inventor, noted for his many contributions to games and the video game industry. In 2005, he was named a recipient of the National Medal of Technology. He invented the home console for video games. Baer is best known for leading the development of the first home video game console with the Brown Box. He sold his idea to Magnavox who came out with the Magnavox Odyssey, which was introduced in 1972. Baer, who has a background in television work, developed the system in 1966 for the defense-electronics company Sanders Associates in Nashua, New Hampshire (now part of BAE Systems). It was licensed to Magnavox and for a time was Sanders' most profitable line, even though many in the company looked down on game development.

1972: Magnavox Odyssey - The First Home Video Game System

Production of the Magnavox Odyssey began on January 27th, 1972, with sales starting in May 1972. The Odyssey was a primitive video game system by modern standards, only being capable of generating a few moving elements on the television screen. The system used the plastic screen overlay method that originated with Winky Dink to add colored play fields to the games that came packaged with the system. The system was programmable, but achieved its logic entirely from discreet electronic components- there was no microprocessor and the cartridges were merely jumpers that reconfigured the electronics inside the console. The Odyssey was poorly marketed, with some dealers even claiming the unit would only work on Magnavox TV's, a claim they were able to get away with as the concept of attaching a device to the television antenna terminals was novel. The Odyssey was withdrawn after about a year on the market.

Engineer Ralph Baer originated the design of the Magnavox Odyssey system, and he later went on to work on the prototype ColecoVision expansion module that would have permitted RCA's SJT400 interactive VideoDisc player to communicate with the ColecoVision game console via the control port. The Dutch electronics giant Philips later acquired the Magnavox company, so they would have an American infrastructure to market DiscoVision LaserDisc players that were being jointly developed with MCA.

Here is a quote from "The Coleco Story" written by Ralph H. Baer in May 2000 concerning a five-inch CED he suggested to RCA: "Another invention of mine which I had taken with me to demo at that same meeting in 1982 also resulted in an instant license agreement with Coleco. I had a demo promoting the idea of using a video-disc under control of a ColecoVision game (and presumably ADAM, later on) for interactive game use. To make this scheme economically feasible, I had discussions with Jon Clements - who headed the videodisc program at RCA - about building a 5 inch version of their Selectavison 12 inch video disk unit... shades of computer and game systems using shiny, round 5" CD-ROM disks for interactive games... only twenty years too early. Coleco started to negotiate an agreement with RCA and all went well until the ADAM fiasco put a halt to this development effort. That was too bad...and nearly twenty years would go by until fully-digital versions of that system would reappear in the video game world. As for myself, I went on to develop interactive video-disk-based systems at Sanders which were used for military training-and-education purposes with considerable success. Coleco recovered courtesy of the ugliest dolls in the world - the Cabbage Patch dolls - Although I tried a few times, I would never be able to place a product idea with Coleco again; electronics had become at no-no at Coleco. The company finally went out of business in the late eighties. ColecoVision games continue to have a loyal following in the Classic Games community... I'm still waiting to see one of the retro-game designers interface it to a CD-ROM to extend the machine's capabilities. That would complete the circle I started in 1982 and never quite closed. Is anybody out there listening?"

This article is an altered and updated version of the Nintendo story originally published March 1, 2006 @ Interactive Dreams. Credits: Cedmagic

1 reacties:

Bas April 25, 2007 at 9:16 PM  

for those who applied to our email service: Sometimes I want to re-archive posts or re-arrange them here to get the best out of it. Therefore it happens you receive the same posts again! That's part of the service, but these things won't happen often! At least you're updated with the latest version!

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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