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Lot #5001
Allan Alcorn: Original Atari Pong 'Home Edition' Chip Schematic

Alcorn's original computer-drawn schematic for the Pong 'Home Edition' chip

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Estimate: $5000+
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Alcorn's original computer-drawn schematic for the Pong 'Home Edition' chip

Original computer-drawn schematic of the Atari Pong ‘Home Edition’ chip, originally drawn by engineer Allan Alcorn, one page, 18.5 x 18.5, circa 1974, identified in the lower right corner with the Atari logo and copyright number, “75081,” with “HML,” the initials of engineer Harold Lee, present to center. The lower left is marked “AMI, 1226,” the semiconductor company, American Microsystems Inc., which built the prototype ‘Home Pong’ chip. Framed and in fine condition.

Accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Alcorn, in full: “We started Atari in 1972 as an arcade game manufacturer and I designed our first video game called Pong. Within the first year, we became a dominant arcade game manufacturer and realized that the coin-operated arcade business was only so big but to truly profit from video games we needed to have something we could sell to the home. The only way we could do this was to put all the circuitry on a single silicon chip that we could buy for less than $10 because the arcade game had about $100 worth of components in it. Unfortunately, I had never designed a custom chip but Nolan insisted. Harold Lee was an engineer that worked for me designing coin-operated games and he told me that he could use his previous experience to perhaps put the entire Pong game on a single chip. This sounded like fun so I put a small team together that included myself, Harold, and my wife and in about six months we had a design. We convinced a local semiconductor company called American Microsystems Inc. (AMI) to build a prototype chip for us. Much to my surprise and delight, the chip worked.

Now that we had a working prototype we had to figure out where we were going to sell it. Our marketing man called Sears in Chicago and got a hold of the one man at Sears that understood what a home version of Pong meant, Tom Quinn. He was selling the Magnavox Odyssey game but only in the catalog because Magnavox wouldn’t let them sell it in the store. He came out to see us a few days after our call and was astonished at the youth of our company but he saw the value in this product and eventually ordered close to 1 million units.

The chip was designed using an Applicon computer-aided design workstation that we rented time on. The plot shows the top metal layer, the Atari logo, and Harold Lee’s initials. This plot was given to me as a gift at the time it was made.”

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Apple, Jobs, and Computer Hardware
  • Dates: #644 - Ended August 18, 2022