Pong stands as a seminal milestone in the history of video games, marking its status as one of the earliest arcade classics. Developed by Allan Alcorn in 1972 under the assignment of Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Pong emerged as a simple yet revolutionary table tennis sports game with two-dimensional graphics.
The game's inception was inspired by an electronic ping-pong game featured in the Magnavox Odyssey, which later led to a lawsuit against Atari. Impressed by the quality of Alcorn's work, Bushnell and Atari co-founder Ted Dabney decided to manufacture Pong, and it quickly became the first commercially successful video game. Its success played a pivotal role in establishing the video game industry, coinciding with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home console.
Following its release, Pong's gameplay became a blueprint, inspiring numerous imitations and prompting Atari to encourage innovation among its staff. The company released several sequels that expanded upon the original's gameplay by introducing new features.
During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari released a home version of Pong exclusively through Sears retail stores, achieving commercial success and sparking a wave of copies. The game's cultural impact is underscored by its inclusion in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Beyond its historical significance, Pong has left an enduring legacy, referenced and parodied in various television shows and video games. It continues to be featured in cultural exhibitions, cementing its status as a cornerstone in the evolution of video games.