Artifact Details


Odyssey game controller

Catalog Number



Physical object


"7 game cards (numbered 1-6,8) and associated screen overlays Pieces for board game portions of Roulette, Football and Haunted House (manual included) 2 game controllers original box" Donor letter, stored in Accession Folder: ... I was given this machine by my parents for a Christmas present in about 1965. [This doesn't seem possible--D.S.] It was, to the best of knowledge, the first commercially available home video game. It cost approximately $100 new. It came with six cards and color screen overlays for 19" and 23" televisions as the game knows nothing of color. The box I sent also has game card #8, handball, and its overlays. Ths unit so so old that it is made of discrete components on plug-in cards (no ICs). I tried the unit befire I packed it and it worked, but it did require a bit of adjustment. ... From WWW ( ): THE MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY! In 1966 Ralph B'r came up with the idea for the first home video games system. Working at the time for Sanders Associates Ralph was joined by Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch to come up with a completed product. By 1967 the trio had completed a hockey game which was quite sophisticated, the speed of the electronic puck depended on how hard you hit it. In early 1968 B'r was applying for patents on the invention and once they were granted, Sanders Associates had the exlusive rights to make, use, and sell video ball-and-paddle games. All other makers had to be licensed by Sanders Associates to make the games. In 1969, B'r was demonstrating their new product for RCA, Zenith, General Electric and Magnavox, of course it was Magnavox that agreed to manufacture and distribute it. It went on sale in 1972 called . . . The Odyssey. The Oddyssey originally came with 12 different plug in games that came on printed circuit cards (all of which were designed by Ralph B'r). In addition to the PC cards were 2 sizes of plastic, semi-transparent overlays, that you layed on top of your TV Screen to provide the right background. Therefore the hockey had a plastic hockey rink on top of the screen, so you knew it was hockey and not say, soccer. Also it included cardboard scorecards, so that you could keep track of the score (it wasn't displayed). As an option, Odyssey owners could buy the "Shooting Gallery" which included four more games and an electronic gun. The gun was simply light sensitive and a score can be racked up quite easily by pointing it at your local light bulb. About 85,000 Odyssey's were sold in 1972 and about 20,000 rifles (apparently people believed you had to own a Magnavox television for it to work which scared away some buyers). After that time, the Odyssey sales fell due to the outbreak of competition. Magnavox Made Cards Table Tennis, Tennis, Football, Ski, Submarine, Haunted House, Cat and Mouse, Roulette, Hockey Shooting Gallery Electronic Rifle Games Shootout, Dogfight, Prehistoric Safari, Shooting Gallery





Place Manufactured

Fort Wayne, IN, USA

Identifying Numbers

Other number 701478 01 Assembly on sticker on bottom


3 x 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 in



Lot Number