back to article Atari Pong at 40: Alcorn talks plastics, pirates and square balls

The phrase "Once you're lucky, twice you're good" should be applied to Allan "Al" Alcorn, the engineer behind Pong, the world's first successful computer arcade game which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. It is Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, the buccaneering entrepreneur with a flashy grin, who attracts headlines for …


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  1. Jedit Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Elton John?

    Pinball Wizard was by The Who, matey boots. Elton John just did the cover version.

    (Paris, because she too is famous for goings on under the covers.)

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Elton John?

      Elton sang it in the movie version of Tommy, which was then released as a single.

  2. Matthew 3

    Ah, brings back memories

    I can still remember the first time I played Pong. Life was a lot simpler in those days, people were nicer, the sun shone brighter and it was all fields around here too.

    1. Fractured Cell

      Re: Ah, brings back memories

      Yeah, but you had to trudge through 3 feet of snow to school, 7 miles away, uphill both ways.

      Then, you had to go and work a 27-hour day down the coal mine, just to buy your family a single potato to eat.

      It weren't all sunshine and moonbeams, sweetheart.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah, brings back memories


      2. Martin Huizing

        Re: Ah, brings back memories

        You had a potato? We'd be lucky to have potato peel!

  3. Irongut

    I still have my Atari 2600 and it still works. They don't make 'em like that any more!

    1. Jerome 0

      Well if yours still works, they don't need to.

  4. Wisteela

    Happy Birthday

    Got it on Atari collections for my DS and PSP.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Pong was later followed the Breakout game that Steve Jobs got Woz to help him on, but didn't let on about the big bonus he got as a result.

    1. MacGyver

      Jobs was a douche, the best man (Woz) definitely won in the end.

  6. Spoonsinger

    Might want to tell...

    Volkswagen to get their dates right on that fecking annoying "up!" advert.

  7. Sapper

    "Things like Tetris appeal to me because that's only a game that exists in that medium."

    Bullshit. I have a board game version of Tetris I found at a yard sale for $5--it's a bit like 'Connect Four' where you put the pieces at the top and let them drop. Even plays Korobeiniki while flashing lights to let you know what piece to use next.

    Great fun while drinking.

  8. Quantum Leaper

    Pong was the first Arcade Video game, but not the first Coin Operated Video game, which was Galaxy Game (Computer Space clone) which ran on PDP-11, it easy to be successful when your competition cost over $20,000 in 1971 dollars. Galaxy Game is available for MAME as a free download, but not on MAME's web site yet. Also it the only game in MAME that has the source code available, since it the source listing is convert to make the code that runs the game.

    Here is the Google code page for Galaxy Game

  9. Displacement Activity
    Paris Hilton

    "Screw you, I'm not making it round!"

    Great! I'll have to remember that one.

    Seriously, though, Pong was just a rip-off of Odyssey, and the article actually says that. Bushnell and Alcorn weren't visionaries just because they got in on the action a few months before everyone else who ripped it off.

    I played ping-pong on Odyssey (once) in November '72, in San Francisco, and it was probably the first time I'd ever seen (or heard of) a computer. I was 13. I still remember it clearly, and it was life-changing - my first computer was in the shops less than 10 years later.

  10. MacGyver

    It's funny..

    I get my old ass handed to me when I play my kid Halo, but can decimate them at pong. I think kids today are too spastic for Pong.

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