Pong is a 2-D sports game which simulates Table Tennis. The player takes control of a in-game paddle and, moves it up and down the left side of the screen. The player can play against the computer or another player. The paddle is used to hit the ball back and forth. The aim of Pong is to earn more points that the other player. The player gains a point when the opponent fails to return the ball.
Lawsuit from Magnavox Odyssey
Due to the massive success of Pong, Ralph Baer ( inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey ) and Ralph's employer Sanders Associates. Sanders had a exclusive agreement with Magnavox. Sanders duty was to handle the Odyssey's sublicensing, which included dealing with infringment on their exclusive rights. Magnavox had not taken legal action against Atari and many other companies which released Pong clones. Sanders applied pressure for three years, and in 1975 Magnavox filed suit against Atari, Bally Midway, and Chicago Dynamics. Magnavox argued that Atari had infringed on Baer's patents and his concept of electronic ping-pong. Sanders had kept detailed records of the Odyssey's design process dating all the way back to 1966. After considering his options, Nolan Bushnell decided to settle with Magnavox out of court. Bushnell's lawyer felt they could win, however, he estimated legal costs of 1.5 million US dollars, which would have exceeded Atari's funds. Magnavox offered Atari an agreement to become a licensee for US$700,000. Other companies producing Pong clones—Atari's competitors—would have to pay royalties. In addition, Magnavox would obtain the rights to Atari products developed over the next year. Magnavox continued to pursue legal action against the other companies, and proceedings began shortly after Atari's settlement in June 1976.
The idea for a home console version of Pong was first conceived in 1973 and a prototype was designed by Al Alcorn, Bob Brown and Harold Lee during 1975. Eventually in June 1975, the Pong console was demonstrated at the Comsumer Electronics Show. At first very little interest was shown by the major retailers because the retailers believed that the public had no major interest in video games at the point in time. So in distress Atari contacted Tom Quinn, the sporting goods buyer for Sears, Roebuck and Company. Quinn was familiar with the Pong game found in arcades and bars, and decided to take a chance on the new console. He met with Nolan Bushnell and asked how many units Atari could produce for the Christmas holiday season. Bushnell reckoned that they could produce 75,000, but Quinn wanted 150,000 units and offered to pay to boost production to that level. Because of this deal, Sears would become the exclusive retailer of Pong under the Sears Tele-Games label. Christmas 1975 turned out to be the most successful period for sales of Pong home consoles, with customers lined up outside Sears stores waiting for new shipments of the game to arrive.
A version of Pong, with no gameplay changes, was released under two names: Dr. Pong, and Puppy Pong. These versions started at the press of a button, instead of inserting coins. Dr. Pong was built into shelving, and was made for use in venues such as doctor's office waiting rooms. Puppy Pong was essentially the same thing, but with a cabinet shaped like a doghouse with a puppy on it, so as to appeal to children. Puppy Pong was originally developed as Snoopy Pong, but the design was changed to avoid copyright issues.