Magnavox Odyssey
Type Console Developer Magnavox
Release Date 1972-May Region(s) North America, Europe, Mexico, Japan
Initial Price $99 USD Games Released 28
DW FACTS
     by Dark Watcher
The Magnavox Odyssey was the very first home video game system.  It was the brilliant creation of Ralph Baer (dubbed "The Father of home video games").  It played "Ball and Paddle" games such as "Ping Pong", "Table Tennis", "Volleyball" and others.
 
On January 27th, 1972, Magnavox began production on the machine and the system was released in May.  It was heavily advertised and reportedly sold 100,000 units in 1972 for around $100 each.
 
The Odyssey has no real specs.  It contained no processor or memory.  The box is made up of transistors, resistors and capacitors.  Odyssey used cards that contained pin outs to change game settings.  Plastic overlays that could be placed over the TV screen created graphics and color, but the actual display consisted of white squares (Paddle and ball) on an all black background.  The Odyssey originally came with six game cards and a 36-page user manual for the twelve additional games offered for the system.

The launch of Odyssey generated a severe case of "PONG Madness".  Companies worldwide began developing their own "PONG" machines. 
Magnavox Odyssey Advertisement
FACT: Magnavox Odyssey was sold only in Magnavox stores.  Customers were told that the Odyssey would only work on Magnavox brand televisions.  A nice lie that contributed to the amount of units sold.  Before it became Odyssey, Ralph Baer's creation was simply called "The Brown Box".  We were able to get our claws on this historical prototype (pictured below).
Ralph Baer \ Magnavox Odyssey
 
MODELS
     Officially licensed releases
Magnavox Odyssey (US)

Magnavox Odyssey (Export)

Magnavox Odisea (Mex)

Magnavox Odyssey (Ger)

ITT Odyssee

Kanal 34

Provided courtesy of The Online Odyssey Museum

Magnavox Odyssey (1972 first production run - Model ITL200, RUN1)

 
CLONES
     Non-licensed hardware releases
Telematch de Panoramic

Wonder Wizard

Overkal


 
CONSOLE RATINGS
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.

 

CRITERIA RATING NOTES & COMMENTS
Console Design 07 In my opinion, the white shell casing is somewhat futuristic in appearance and entirely appealing.  One thing that is odd is the thickness of the controller cords - I am not sure what is sheathed within them but it must truly be something fantastic.
Console Durability 07 With very little moving parts, the console is very durable.  I have not had any issues with my system in the 15+ years that I have owned it.
Controllers 08 The large, rotating knob is not that easy to use, but is entirely functional.  This same basic design would be duplicated for some years in other Pong systems.
Graphics 07 Since this was the first video game system that was available for the home market, it is really difficult to complain at all when it comes to graphical output.  Being able to display any type of interactive game experience makes the Odyssey the classic it is today.
Audio 01 The system did not emit any sound whatsoever.  This was latter incoporat3ed in the myriad of PONG consoles that hit the market a couple of years after the initial release of the Odyssey.
Media 08 The Pin Cards was truly innovative at the time, containing programming logic and screen output.  The game overlays to simulate color was also a nice touch.
Game Library 06 Though the Odyssey games were basically the same, you have to give it high marks for creativity of its game variations and being able to bring a video game experience to the home user.
Gamer Value 01 In all honesty, there is not much here for the casual gamer.
Collector Value 08 These systems are rather common, but finding one that is truly complete can be challenging.  The most desirable unit (excluding exports) is the first production run model (ITL200-BLAK-RUN1).

FORMAT, PACKAGING & GENERAL INFO
     Interesting facts on software for this system
The Magnavox Odyssey displayed everything in Black and White.  TV Overlays were used to provide the canvas for game play.  Basically they provided a road map for the player to guide the controller.

The console came with twelve (12) games: Analogic, Cat & Mouse, Football, Haunted House, Hockey, Roulette, Simon Says, Skiing, States, Submarine, Table Tennis (ping pong) and Tennis.  Additionally, a coupon for a free game (Percepts) was also part of the package.



Odyssey games can be difficult to acquire, especially in their original long boxes (as pictured above).  More difficult is to even get a CIB version of the system with all of the various game pieces, overlays and the like.
 
Sample Game Play from What's My Line
SCREENSHOTS
     Captured in-game images with Screen Overlays
Analogic
Baseball
Cat and Mouse
Football
Fun Zoo
Handball
Haunted House
Hockey
Invasion
Percepts
Roulette
Simon Says
Skiing
States
Submarine
Table Tennis
Tennis
Volleyball
Wipeout
   

Shooting Gallery was released in 1972 and included a Light Gun peripheral along with four additional games.
Dogfight
Prehistoric Safari
Shooting Gallery
Shootout
Box & Contents

Other Odyssey Game Overlays
Basketball
Brain Wave
Interplanetary Voyage
Win

 
   
EMULATION
     First and third party system emulators
Odyemu

This is the first emulator released for the Magnavox Odyssey.  It is DOS based and should work on most PC's.
 
SPECS & MANUALS
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
None N\A None None
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
  Black & White N\A None
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Pin Out Cards N\A 28 None
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None None Paddle type Light Gun (optional)
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (hardwired) None None RF
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC Adapter 9V DC 40 mA or Six (6) type C batteries None The external AC adapter is optional and had to be purchased separately.
Manuals
Magnavox Odyssey Owners Manual (PDF) - 6.54 MB

OTHER MEDIA
     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Magnavox Odyssey Television Commercials

Magnavox Odyssey Promotional Literature and Print Articles
1972 Pamphlet - Page 1
1972 Pamphlet - Page 2
1972 Pamphlet - Page 3
Magazine Ad 1
Magazine Ad 2
Magazine Ad 3
Provided courtesy of The Online Odyssey Museum
 
DISCUSS
     Visitor insights and feedback
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