Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
The Stupidest Thing VCs Had Ever Heard Of
Over forty years ago a guy put a games machine in a Sunnyvale bar called Andy Capp’s.
The game was table tennis played on a TV screen. The inventor called it Pong. He couldn’t get VC money.
“People thought the idea of playing games on a television set was the stupidest thing they’d ever heard of,” said the inventor, Nolan Bushnell.
It took a bit of time for anyone in Andy Capp’s bar to take notice of the new machine but, eventually, two people did. Then another two. By the end of the evening everyone in the bar had had a go.
Next morning there was a queue outside the bar waiting to play the machine.
More Pong machines were installed all over America becoming a craze and Bushnell’s company, Atari, boomed.
Bushnell sold out to Warner in 1976. In 1983 the company lost $536 million – smashed by Japanese competition.
The gaming industry had been invented.