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Main article: Magnavox Odyssey
The Magnavox Odyssey is the world's first home video game console and was released by Magnavox in 1972. Designed by Ralph Baer and first demonstrated on May 24, 1972, it was sold by Magnavox and affiliates through 1975. The Odyssey 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.
Dedicated Odysseys (1975–1977)
The Odyssey 100 dedicated console was released in 1975. It uses a multi-chip discrete component design, which makes it much simpler than all later dedicated consoles Magnavox would eventually release. Magnavox already had a single-chip design in mind that year, but wanted to have a product they could release immediately if Texas Instruments, the supplier of their single video game chips, was unable to deliver in a timely manner.
The Odyssey 100 was designed around four Texas Instruments chips. It has two games (Tennis and Hockey); the tennis game was the inspiration for Pong. Neither game had on-screen scoring and the system used a crude buzzer for sound. The Odyssey 100 is powered by either six "C" batteries or a 9 volt AC adapter. Each player had three knobs for horizontal movement, vertical movement and ball trajectory adjustment ("English").
The Odyssey 200 dedicated console was released in 1975. Using the TI single-chip design, the console improved on the Odyssey 100 in several areas. In addition to Tennis and Hockey, the Odyssey 200 featured a third game variation called "Smash". The Odyssey 200 was also the first video game console to feature either two-player or four-player options. The Odyssey 200 added non-digital on-screen scoring (a white rectangle moved one space to the right each time a player scored a point). Like the Odyssey 100, the Odyssey 200 is powered by either six "C" batteries or a 9 volt AC adapter and uses the same game control knobs as its predecessor.
The Odyssey 300
The Odyssey 300 dedicated console was released in 1976. Unlike Magnavox's previous two dedicated console products, the Odyssey 300 was meant to compete directly with the Coleco Telstar. Like the Telstar, the Odyssey 300 uses the AY-3-8500 chip as its logic and was among the first dedicated consoles to use a single IC chip as the focus of its design rather than multiple computer chips or transistor-transistor logic. The 300 has the same three games as the Odyssey 200; unlike the 200, the Odyssey 300 console has three difficulty levels: Novice, Intermediate and Expert.
The Odyssey 400 dedicated console was released in 1976. The 400 is essentially the same as the Odyssey 200 with automatic serve and on-screen digital scoring features added. The console plays the same three games as the 200 and has the same three game control knobs. An additional Texas Instruments chip was used to implement on-screen scoring.
The Odyssey 500 dedicated console was released in 1976. The console is essentially the same as the Odyssey 400 with one unique addition: instead of using vertical line "paddles", the console has special graphics that actually resemble simplified versions of human players. Three different graphics were used for the three different game variations; Magnavox marketed the 500 as having a fourth game (Soccer) by using the squash player graphics with the hockey playing field.
The Odyssey 2000 dedicated console was released in 1977. The 2000 was basically an updated version of the Odyssey 300. Like the 300, the Odyssey 2000 uses the AY-3-8500 single-chip design (which is also used in the Odyssey 3000). The Odyssey 2000 uses a single rotating knob for game control instead of the three knobs used by earlier Magnavox dedicated video game consoles. In addition to the Tennis, Hockey and Squash ("Smash") game variations, the 2000 adds the Practice variation of one-player squash.
The Odyssey 3000 dedicated console was released in 1977. The 3000 features the same four game variations as the Odyssey 2000. With the Odyssey 3000, Magnavox abandoned its old case design with one with a more contemporary style. The console itself is more angular and less rounded; two flat buttons are used for the serve and reset functions and the console settings knobs were reduced in size. The Odyssey 3000 uses a flat circular knob for selecting different games and unlike all previous Odyssey dedicated video game consoles, the 3000 features detachable game paddles (without any fire buttons).
Magnavox Odyssey 4000
Magnavox concluded their line of dedicated video game consoles with the Odyssey 4000. The Odyssey 4000 dedicated console was released in 1977. Based around the AY-3-8600 single-chip design, the 4000 features a total of eight game variations based on Tennis, Hockey, Squash and Practice. Unlike the Odyssey 3000, the 4000 featured detachable joysticks. The AY-3-8615 chip enabled the Odyssey 4000 to display color instead of black and white graphics.
Odyssey 5000 (prototype)
This console should contain two chips, National Semiconductor's MM57106 with 7 games (same as Odyssey 2100) and Signetics' CR861 (aka MUGS) with a helicopter and a tank game.
Dedicated Philips Odyssey Series
Philips released their own licensed version of the original Magnavox Odyssey before purchasing Magnavox in 1974, after which it continued to release its own versions of the dedicated Odyssey consoles.
The Odyssey 200 is the same as its US released counterpart. Released across Europe in 1976, it was replaced by the Philips Odyssey 2001 in 1977.
The Odyssey 2001 is the Philips version of the Magnavox Odyssey 4000, with differences in the games offered and the use of detachable paddles instead of joysticks. Released in 1977, the 2001 is based on the National Semiconductor MM-57105 chip, which plays Tennis, Hockey and Squash, and allows full color and direct sound on the TV.
The Odyssey 2100 was released in 1978 and uses the same case design as the 2001. Using the National Semiconductor MM-57186N chip, the 2100 plays 6 games with multiple variations: Wipe-Out (Breakout style, 7 variants), Flipper (7 variants), Tennis (2 variants), Handball (2 variants), Ice Hockey (2 variants), Football (3 variants).