When it was released in 1972, Pong wasn’t the first video game. Depending on how you write the rules, there might have been as many as a dozen before it. But it was the first one to become wildly popular and commercially successful, which is its own kind of glory.
Pong existed both as an arcade game – the first unit was installed in Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, Calif. — and also in a home version, first sold by Sears in 1975.
The universe of Pong was primally simple: two paddles, a dotted line for a net, and a dot for a ball, all in black and white. The experience was surprisingly dramatic: the tension that built up as that little square ball slowly crossed the screen, and the thought that went into gaming its angles and (wholly imaginary) spin with your paddle far exceeded the complexity of the actual gameplay.