Rest in Peace: The Father of the Video Game Cartridge Has Passed

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Jerry Lawson, the man widely-credited with inventing the video game cartridge and its complimentary console, died of a heart attack this past Saturday at his home in Mt. View, California. He was 70-years old.

A native of Queens, Jerry moved to Silicon Valley in the ’70s to become a pioneer of its early tech scene. Digital Trends reports that he was the sole black member of the legendary Homebrew Computer Club, joining ranks with budding industry heavyweights like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

(Sidenote: Vintage Computing has an amazing interview with Jerry before the time of his passing. When pressed about Jobs and Wozniak, Jerry simply offers, “I was not impressed with them — either one, in fact.”)

Lawson was the key engineer behind the Fairchild Channel F console— the first gaming system to utilize interchangeable ROM cartridges, making it easy for future users to switch between games. Though the Fairchild Channel F was soon eclipsed by its rival Atari, the technology was instrumental to shaping the console gaming industry today.

His family friend David Erhart tells Wired, “He continued building devices to control telescopes, lasers, tools, etc. up until the day he went to the hospital.”

Take an old cartridge, wrap it up in your shirt, and blow one out for Jerry, to whom we owe infinite thanks.

He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.