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  • Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 10:22am

    Full story...

    One last comment. Anyone interested in the full story behind this, PONG, and far more should pick up the 800 page Atari history book that was released on PONG's anniversary as well:

    http://www.amazon.com/Atari-Inc-Mr-Curt-Vendel/dp/0985597402

  • Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 10:19am

    What the infringement was...

    While the impetus for PONG was Baer's Odyssey Tennis game (As Al Alcon has even stated, "And Nolan got the idea from that, but it's like the movie The Producers, because he figured we'd rip off the idea for a game, but so what? It's no good, we're not going to sell it, we'll throw it away, so what harm is there, right?" That's not in any way what the settlement was about. The settlement (which was between Atari and Maganvox and not Ralph and Nolan, and was actually for a large amount of money at the time for Atari) was in regards to licensing video display technology. What was claimed in the article as "broad patent" is actually anything but: It's specifically related to VIDEO technology. I.E. moving and interacting with objects on a television set via a video signal. That last part is important, because (besides being where the video in video game came from) it's also why Spacewar and tennis for two were thrown out multiple times from being demonstrations of previous technology. CRT != video. There is no video signal present in a vector driven oscilloscope or related display device. Ralph was the first to tap in to a standard TV set (a video driven raster display) for the purpose of generating objects and interacting with them for a game. Which is why his and his team's patents were called the landmark patents of the industry. In all fairness, the spot-motion tech that was in PONG and Computer Space was developed completely independently of Ralph's work - by Nolan's partner Ted Dabney in 1969-1970 while at Ampex. But it was still well after Ralph's efforts and initial patent filings (in fact by that time Sanders was already well in to trying to find someone to manufacture the full console that became the Magnavox Odyssey). And before people cast aspersions towards Ralph and his patents, know that Nolan is on record in multiple interviews in the early 1970s for wanting to do the exact same thing via Atari: go after competitors and force them to license Atari's spot-motion patent.