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Atari Pong was released on this day (November 29) in 1972 and some may not know that the game was developed by engineer Allan Alcorn as a training exercise assigned to him by company co-founder Nolan Bushnell. Ted Dabney, the second Atari co-founder, was so surprised by the quality of Alcorn’s work that he decided to manufacture the game for release in arcades.
This two-dimensional game essentially simulates table tennis, where the player controls an in-game paddle by moving it vertically across the left or right side of the screen. A second player controls a paddle on the opposing side and the goal is to reach eleven points before their opponent. Points are gained when one fails to return the ball to the other, similar to other electronic tennis games that Bushnell had played before developing Pong.
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Bushnell and Alcorn installed the Pong prototype at Andy Capp’s Tavern during August 1972 near the bar’s other entertainment machines: a jukebox, pinball machines, as well as Computer Space. After seeing its success, Bushnell embarked on a business trip to Chicago to demonstrate Pong to executives at Bally and Midway Manufacturing. Ultimately, it was decided that the game would be more profit for Atari to manufacture rather than license.
[Sources: 1 | 2]