A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Pong Pong

This week in 1972, a fledgling company called Atari installed the prototype of its first-ever video game in a Silicon Valley bar. Hear the story of how the simplest game ever launched a $60-billion-dollar industry.

By Axel Tregoning (axeldeviaje) ; bayo (work on the image) (I PONG U PONG WE ALL PONG) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The History Lesson

This week back in 1972, the first smash-hit video game was unveiled. The game that launched an industry — was made for drunks.

See, in 1971, a guy named Nolan Bushnell produced the first coin-operated video game. He and his engineer pals loved it. But average Joes couldn’t figure out the complex rules — the game flopped. So a year later, when Bushnell founded a company called “Atari?” He told his engineer to design a game so simple, you could play it tipsy.

The result? Simple video ping-pong, simply named “Pong.” Atari installed the prototype in a Silicon Valley bar. And within two weeks, fascinated customers had stuffed it so full of quarters — it broke.

The rest is gaming history: Pong machines raked in cash across America. Competitors churned out imitations. Soon there were more than ten thousand Pongs and sons-of-Pongs. Video games were suddenly big business.

Meanwhile, Pong bounced out of bars and into family rooms — Becoming the first home video game hit. And in 1977, kids could play it in public at Bushnell’s next business venture: Chuck E. Cheese restaurants.

The Booze

The Pong Pong

As engineered by Jonny Raglin, bartender at Comstock Saloon in San Francisco, CA.

In a shaker over ice, add:

  • 1.5 oz. Plymouth sloe gin
  • 1 oz. Drambuie
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice – back and forth, back and forth – and strain into a cocktail glass. Add a lemon peel garnish, and drink until you get a high. Score.