Magnavox Odyssey series

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Magnavox Odyssey series
The original Magnavox Odyssey (1972)
ManufacturerMagnavox, Philips
TypeVideo game console

The Magnavox Odyssey is a general brand name of the company's complete line of home video game consoles released from 1972 through 1978. The line includes the original Magnavox Odyssey console, both Magnavox and Philips versions of the Odyssey series of dedicated video game consoles, and the Magnavox Odyssey² cartridge-based video game console released in 1978.

Magnavox Odyssey[edit]

The Magnavox Odyssey, released by Magnavox in 1972, is the world's first home video game console. Designed by Ralph Baer and first demonstrated on May 24 1972, it was sold by Magnavox and affiliates through 1975. The Odyssey uses a type of removable printed circuit board card that inserts into a slot similar to a cartridge slot, allowing the player to select the unit's various games.

Dedicated Odysseys (1975–1977)[edit]

These eight consoles were released in the US by Magnavox after its purchase by Philips in 1974.

Odyssey 100[edit]

The Odyssey 100 dedicated console was released in 1975. It uses a multi-chip discrete component design, which makes it much simpler than all later dedicated consoles Magnavox would eventually release. Magnavox already had a single-chip design in mind that year, but wanted to have a product they could release immediately if Texas Instruments, the supplier of their single video game chips, was unable to deliver in a timely manner.[1]

The Odyssey 100 was designed around four Texas Instruments chips. It has two games (Tennis and Hockey). Neither game had on-screen scoring and the system used a crude buzzer for sound. The Odyssey 100 is powered by either six "C" batteries or a 9 volt AC adapter. Each player had three knobs for horizontal movement, vertical movement and ball trajectory adjustment ("English").

Odyssey 200[edit]

The Odyssey 200 dedicated console was released in 1975. Using the TI single-chip design, the console improved on the Odyssey 100 in several areas. In addition to Tennis and Hockey, the Odyssey 200 featured a third game variation called "Smash". The Odyssey 200 was also the first video game console to feature either two-player or four-player options.[1] The Odyssey 200 added non-digital on-screen scoring (a white rectangle moved one space to the right each time a player scored a point). Like the Odyssey 100, the Odyssey 200 is powered by either six "C" batteries or a 9 volt AC adapter and uses the same game control knobs as its predecessor.

Odyssey 300[edit]

The Odyssey 300

The Odyssey 300 dedicated console was released in 1976. Unlike Magnavox's previous two dedicated console products, the Odyssey 300 was meant to compete directly with the Coleco Telstar. Like the Telstar, the Odyssey 300 uses the AY-3-8500 chip as its logic and was among the first dedicated consoles to use a single IC chip as the focus of its design rather than multiple computer chips or transistor–transistor logic.[2] The 300 has the same three games as the Odyssey 200; unlike the 200, the Odyssey 300 console has three difficulty levels: Novice, Intermediate and Expert.[2] It also introduced on-screen number scoring.

Odyssey 400[edit]

The Odyssey 400 dedicated console was released in 1976. The 400 is essentially the same as the Odyssey 200 with automatic serve and on-screen digital scoring features added. The console plays the same three games as the 200 and has the same three game control knobs. An additional Texas Instruments chip was used to implement on-screen scoring.[3]

Odyssey 500[edit]

The Odyssey 500 (Model 7520) dedicated console was released in 1976. The console is essentially the same as the Odyssey 400 with one unique addition: instead of displaying vertical line "paddles", the console uses special graphics that actually resemble simplified versions of human players. Three different graphics were used for the three different game variations (Tennis, Hockey, and Smash); Magnavox marketed the 500 as having a fourth game (Soccer) by using the squash player graphics with the hockey playing field.[1] The console offers automatic serve, displays digital on-screen scores between plays, and provides settings for ball speed control. Power is delivered via an included AC adapter.[4]:24

Odyssey 2000[edit]

The Odyssey 2000

The Odyssey 2000 (Model BH7510) dedicated console was released in 1977. The 2000 was basically an updated version of the Odyssey 300. Like the 300, the Odyssey 2000 uses the AY-3-8500 single-chip design (which is also used in the Odyssey 3000). The Odyssey 2000 is set up for two players and uses a single rotating knob for each player's game control instead of the three knobs used by earlier Magnavox dedicated video game consoles. In addition to the Tennis, Hockey and Squash ("Smash") game variations, the 2000 adds the Practice variation of one-player squash.[5] Points scored during gameplay are shown at the top of the screen when each player scores, and the winner is the first player to gain 15 points. Like earlier Odyssey models, the 2000 is powered by either six "C" batteries or an optional AC adapter.[4]:18

Odyssey 3000[edit]

Magnavox Odyssey 3000

The Odyssey 3000 (Model 7508) dedicated console was released in 1977. The 3000 features the same game variations as the Odyssey 2000 (Tennis, Hockey, Smash) as well as Basketball, Soccer, and Gridball (a game where the player must skillfully navigate a ball through a series of barricades). The unit is set up for two players, but a solo-play Practice mode is available for both Smash and Basketball. A three-position handicap switch allows players to set skill level, and additional controls allow players to select automatic or manual serve, ball speed, and ball deflection angle (20 or 40 degrees).[4]:21 With the Odyssey 3000, Magnavox abandoned its old case design with one with a more contemporary style. The console itself is more angular and less rounded; two flat buttons are used for the serve and reset functions[6] and the console settings knobs were reduced in size. The Odyssey 3000 uses a flat circular knob for selecting different games and unlike all previous Odyssey dedicated video game consoles, the 3000 features detachable game paddles (without any fire buttons).[7] The 3000 is powered by either six "C" batteries or an optional AC adapter.[4]:21

Odyssey 4000[edit]

Magnavox Odyssey 4000

Magnavox concluded their line of dedicated video game consoles with the Odyssey 4000. The Odyssey 4000 (Model 7511) dedicated console was released in 1977. Based around the AY-3-8600 single-chip design, the 4000 features a total of seven games (Tennis, Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Knockout, Tank, and Helicopter) that with variations can be expanded to twenty-four different gaming experiences. The unit allows up to four players and includes a Practice mode for solo-play against the computer. As with the 3000, the 4000 offers a skill switch for novice, semi-pro, and professional skill levels. Additional features include automatic serve, variable ball speeds, and a pause button.[4]:24-25 Unlike the Odyssey 3000, the 4000 featured detachable joysticks. The AY-3-8615 chip enabled the Odyssey 4000 to display color instead of black and white graphics.[7] The 4000 is powered by an included AC adapter.[4]:25

Odyssey 5000 (prototype)[edit]

This console should contain two chips, National Semiconductor's MM571068 with 7 games (same as Odyssey 2100) and Signetics' CR861 (aka MUGS) with a helicopter and a tank game.

Dedicated Philips Odyssey Series[edit]

Dutch TV manufacturer Philips purchased Magnavox in 1974, after which it began to release its own versions of the dedicated Odyssey consoles in Europe.

Odyssey 200[edit]

Philips Odyssey 200

The Odyssey 200 is the same as its US released counterpart. Released across Europe in 1976, it was replaced by the Philips Odyssey 2001 in 1977.[8]

Odyssey 2001[edit]

Philips Odyssey 2001

The Odyssey 2001 is the Philips version of the Magnavox Odyssey 4000, with differences in the games offered and the use of detachable paddles instead of joysticks. Released in 1977, the 2001 is based on the National Semiconductor MM-57105 chip, which plays Tennis, Hockey and Squash, and allows full color and direct sound on the TV.[9]

Odyssey 2100[edit]

Philips Odyssey 2100

The Odyssey 2100 was released in 1978 and uses the same case design as the 2001. Using the National Semiconductor MM-57186N chip, the 2100 plays 6 games with multiple variations: Wipe-Out (Breakout style, 7 variants), Flipper (7 variants), Tennis (2 variants), Handball (2 variants), Ice Hockey (2 variants), Football (3 variants).[10]

Magnavox Odyssey²[edit]

A second generation console developed by Philips' Odyssey division subsequent to its purchase of Magnavox in 1974. The Odyssey² was released in 1978.

In popular culture[edit]

In Russ Meyer's 1979 film Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Ann Marie is seen[specify] playing with an Odyssey 300.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Winter, David. Pong-Story: Magnavox and the Odyssey systems. 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Magnavox Odyssey 300".
  3. ^ "Magnavox Odyssey 400".
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kaplan, Deeny, ed. (Winter 1978). "The Video Games". Video (Buyer's Guide). Reese Communications. 1 (1): 17–30. ISSN 0147-8907.
  5. ^ "Magnavox Odyssey 2000".
  6. ^ Johnson, Hugues. "Midwest Gaming Classic 2008".
  7. ^ a b Hatzithomas, Ian. "Home Video Game Console History". Good Deal Games. 2008.
  8. ^ Winter, David. "Pong-Story: Philips Odyssey 200". 2013.
  9. ^ Winter, David. "Pong-Story: Philips Odyssey 2001". 2013.
  10. ^ Winter, David. "Pong-Story: Philips Odyssey 2100". 2013.
  11. ^ Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill (November 1982). "Video's Guide to Electronic Games - What's Next for Video Games". Video. Reese Communications. 6 (8): 108. ISSN 0147-8907.