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Magnavox Odyssey

Published: June 29, 2021

The Magnavox Odyssey, released in September 1972 by Magnavox, is the world's first commercial video game system and was sold through 1975. The Odyssey console uses a type of removable printed circuit board card that inserts into a slot similar to a cartridge slot, allowing the player to select the unit's various games. There isn't a program on these cartridges, but just a few wires that connect electrically som parts of the intern system hardware that a game appears on the TV screen. The console consists of a white, black, and brown box that connects to a television set, and two rectangular controllers attached by wires. It is capable of displaying three square dots and one line of varying height on the screen in monochrome black and white, with differing behavior for the dots depending on the game played.

Magnavox Odyssey

Players place plastic overlays on the screen to display additional visual elements for each game, and the one or two players for each game control their dots with the knobs and buttons on the controller in accordance with the rules given for the game. The console cannot generate audio or track scores. The Odyssey console came packaged with dice, paper money, and other board game paraphernalia to accompany the games, while a peripheral controller—the first video game light gun—was sold separately.

Odyssey game systems

There are 8 dedicated home video game consoles and one TV with built-in game console in the Odyssey series. All of these systems were released in the US by Magnavox, after its purchase by Philips in 1974:

  • Magnavox Odyssey 100
  • Magnavox Odyssey 200
  • Magnavox Odyssey 300
  • Magnavox Odyssey 400
  • Magnavox Odyssey 500
  • Magnavox Odyssey 4305
  • Magnavox Odyssey 2000
  • Magnavox Odyssey 3000
  • Magnavox Odyssey 4000
  • Magnavox Odyssey 2 (1978)

Short history

Back in 1966, Ralph Baer worked as a manager at Sanders Associates, a military electronics company which had a home
consumer division. Baer came up with the idea of using electronics to create a video game console that could be played on television sets at home. The proposed device would transmit a signal that the television set could tune into like a television channel, which Baer referred to as Channel LP, short for "let's play", and he described several games that could be played on it. The management approved of this project, and so with two other engineers he began realising his dream. By late 1967 a prototype home video game system had been created. With the prototype completed, he set about marketing his game to companies like RCA, Zenith, and General Electric, with the hopes of having it mass produced. A few years later he finally managed to market the game to Magnavox electronics, which began production of the Odyssey in January 1972.

Some consumers had been confused by the name of the Magnavox Odyssey, believing that it would work only with Magnavox televisions. However, both the Odyssey and PONG consoles were compatible with any make of television that had an antenna socket.

Original price

Once released in the shops, it sold over 100,000 units that year, at a price of $100 per system, approx. $634 in today's money (2021).

Instructions & manuals

Looking for the instructions?
Download here the Magnavox Odyssey manual (PDF).

Magnavox Odyssey value and price guide

What's your Magnavox Odyssey worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
Magnavox 9 Rare 1972 Magnavox Odyssey 9 Rare 1972 Magnavox Odyssey Games 06/2021 $ 1 799.50
Magnavox 1972 Magnavox ODYSSEY 1972 Magnavox ODYSSEY ELECTRONIC GAME 06/2021 $ 1 180.00
Magnavox 1972 Magnavox Odyssey Game 1972 Magnavox Odyssey Game Console 06/2021 $ 896.80
Magnavox Magnavox Odyssey 1972 Original Magnavox Odyssey 1972 Original First 06/2021 $ 843.70
Magnavox 1972 Odyssey by Magnavox Run 1972 Odyssey By Magnavox Run 1… 06/2021 $ 849.60
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices07/2021-.--

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