• Seth Singleton - Editor

True Gamer? You should be wearing a Jerry Lawson T-shirt

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

By Nikki Syreeta

It's Black History Month and all month long there have been references and stories about African-Americans who have helped us progress through history. But what about video games? There had to be a few of us at the beginning of the computer age.

Have you ever stopped to think who was the guy that made it possible for you to become a game zombie staring at your television for hours on end? Two words. Jerry. Lawson. And just who is Jerry Lawson?

You should be walking around with “Jerry Lawson is my hero” T-shirt’s on at every Video Game conference.

In the 1970 he created the early arcade game Demolition Derby in his garage. After being made Chief Hardware Engineer and director of of engineering for Fairchild gaming division, he developed the Fairchild Channel F back in 1976. Not the most glamorous name ever but what it did was not only revolutionary, it would be the basis of the industry for the next 30 years. It was an in-home game system. The first of its kind. What made it special was the introduction of the removable game cartridge.

Up until Jerry’s little innovation, video games were hardwired to the hardware. Which means you’d have to buy a different system for each game. Pong, for example, was originally hardwired into the hardware. Not only did he invent the home gaming system, he figured out how to get the ROM onto a removable cartridge. Yeah, paving the way for Atari and Nintendo and EVERYBODY else.

And although we’ve moved passed that into streaming and downloading from the internet...none of that would be possible without Jerry. Thank you, Jerry! Know your history and read up on Jerry Lawson and other African-Americans in the industry.

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