1970's Gaming

1970's Gaming.mp4

Gaming in the 1970's

Video games and arcades started to get a little more interesting in the 1950's and 1960's, but it wasn't until the 1970's that gaming found its way into the American home.  By the early 1970's "The Brown Box" was growing in popularity and companies were looking to take advantage of this new technology.  By 1977 Atari had developed a new home gaming system that played simple games of the earlier Odyssey player, but incorporated a better user experience.  The Atari 2600 becomes the catalyst that leads to future developments such as the Nintendo and XBox.

Gaming wasn't just for kids however, in the 1970's Las Vegas was going under a rebirth of its own with the building of Mega Hotels and Resorts and the end of the mob run Vegas hotels.  As more American had money to spend and gambling became increasingly popular Las Vegas became a must visit destination.  

Additionally, work by Hunter S. Thompson of his exploits in Las Vegas added its intrigue and before long this little town in the desert would be the entertainment capital of the world.


Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)

Task 2: Explore the provided videos and attached links for Gaming during the 1970's (15 minutes)

Task 4: The Rise of the 3rd Party Game (15 minutes)

Spend some time exploring the emerging 3rd party game market of the 1970s.  The 1970's home gaming revolution not only created a new way to game it also created a highly competitive market of talented program designers that all had a different vision for the future of computer programming and gaming.  Groups like Activision were born in the 1970's to create games for systems like Atari.  These 3rd party game creators eventually crash the market due to their varying quality and oversaturation of the market.

Task 5: Share What You Learned (5 minutes)

Personal Gaming Consoles

In 1967, developers at Sanders Associates, Inc., led by Ralph Baer, invented a prototype multiplayer, multi-program video game system that could be played on a television. It was known as “The Brown Box.”  Baer, who’s sometimes referred to as Father of Video Games, licensed his device to Magnavox, which sold the system to consumers as the Odyssey, the first video game home console, in 1972. Over the next few years, the primitive Odyssey console would commercially fizzle and die out.

Yet, one of the Odyssey’s 28 games was the inspiration for Atari’s Pong, the first arcade video game, which the company released in 1972. In 1975, Atari released a home version of Pong, which was as successful as its arcade counterpart.  Magnavox, along with Sanders Associates, would eventually sue Atari for copyright infringement. Atari settled and became an Odyssey licensee; over the next 20 years, Magnavox went on to win more than $100 million in copyright lawsuits related to the Odyssey and its video game patents. (https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-video-games )

Atari 2600

In 1977, Atari released what is perhaps the most famous of the pre-Nintendo videogame consoles: the Video Computer System (VCS), later known as the Atari 2600. The company had scored an earlier triumph for the burgeoning industry with its Pong console, but the deluge of cheap knockoffs threatened its future 

"Atari was able to attract the best and the brightest... It was such an exciting thing." (Nolan Bushnell, Atari 7800.com Website, 2001)

The first VCS units shipped with two joysticks, a single pair of paddles, and the two-player Combat cartridge, which contained several tank and plane action games. The eight other game titles, several of which were loose interpretations of Atari's popular arcade games, were Air-Sea Battle, Basic Math, Blackjack, Indy 500, Star Ship, Street Racer, Surround, and Video Olympics.

Although these games were simplistic and not much better than games for rival systems, their variety hinted at what was to come. Indy 500 even came packaged with two steering (driving) controllers, adding to the system's initial array of impressive control options that would be expanded on over the life of the system. (https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131956/a_history_of_gaming_platforms )

Las Vegas

Although new properties like the Four Queens and Union Plaza opened in Downtown Las Vegas in the 1960s and early ‘70s, it was the Golden Nugget that drew most of the publicity in the Fremont Street area. In 1971, Steve Wynn took his profits from a Caesars Palace-Howard Hughes land deal and bought an interest in the Golden Nugget, eventually taking over controlling interest in 1973As the majority shareholder (at just 31-years of age), Wynn began a succession of expansion and renovations at the property and opened the Nugget’s first hotel tower in 1977.

The newly finished casino invited a wealthier clientele to the property with the help of Frank Sinatra as a headliner and pitchman for the operation. The Downtown corridor was greatly improved with the Nugget’s expansion and all the properties in the area benefited.

Across the street, Binion’s Horseshoe Casino brought something else to the area: poker. Although Benny Binion and his family had been offering high stakes gaming at the club since 1951, a poker tournament became the most recognizable link to Binion’s and gambling in Las Vegas, the World Series of Poker.  First held in Las Vegas in 1970, Benny Binion hosted the WSOP at Binion’s Horseshoe as a series of freeze-out high limit cash games where play continued until one player had all the chips. 1970s winner, Johnny Moss, was elected by the other players for winning most of the events which included deuce to seven lowball, five-card stud, seven-card stud, Texas Hold’em, and Razz. (https://www.gamblingsites.com/las-vegas/60s-70s/ )

Las Vegas Reinvented

 During the 1950s and 1960s, mobsters helped build the Sahara, the Sands, the New Frontier and the Riviera. Money from organized crime combined with funds from more respectable investors—Wall Street banks, union pension funds, the Mormon Church and the Princeton University endowment. Tourists flocked to the resorts—8 million a year by 1954—drawn by performers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, and by rows of slot machines and gaming tables. 

In 1966 Howard Hughes checked into the penthouse of the Desert Inn and never left, preferring to buy the hotel rather than face eviction. He bought other hotels too—$300 million worth—ushering in an era in which mob interests were displaced by corporate conglomerates.  (https://www.history.com/topics/us-states/las-vegas )

Mega Hotels

The International Hotel, known today as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, was the first "megaresort" built in Las Vegas and set new standards for future resorts. The largest hotel and casino in the world when it opened in 1969, it was where pop singer Elvis Presley would perform hundreds of times, and its location beside the Las Vegas Convention Center made it a top hotel for conventioneers.

The visionary behind the International was Kirk Kerkorian. In 1967, he bought sixty-four and a half acres on the east side of Paradise Road between Desert Inn Road and Sahara Avenue, about a half-mile east of the Las Vegas Strip, from developer Martin Kratter. Kratter had wanted to build a 1,500-room resort on the land, but opted to sell the tract to Kerkorian for $5 million.

Kerkorian began planning what would be the world's largest resort on the site. By 1967, Las Vegas was drawing fourteen million visitors a year. Kerkorian believed Las Vegas would continue to need more hotels. He predicted that his resort would spawn a line of resorts and create a new "strip" along Paradise. He hired a business associate, Fred Benninger, to oversee the project. To learn how to operate a resort, Kerkorian decided to acquire the Flamingo on the Strip. Benninger hired away the Sahara Hotel's vice president, Alex Shoofey, to run the Flamingo, and Shoofey brought over staff from the Sahara. (http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/international-hotel )