Five Things – 09.21.15 – Content To Let Television Do Its Thing

1. Magnavox Odyssey Videos – I’ve touched on the beautiful Magnavox Odyssey Five Things – 4.15.13, but here’s a look at some of the promotion that surrounded the video game system’s release in 1972 and shortly thereafter.


The Odyssey’s light-based gameplay took a little explaining to the average Joe, and for good reason – you kind of had to really want to play video games on your TV to muster up the effort required to play this thing. Here’s a 1972 film that played in retail locations that explained the system.

While the bright colors and Super 8 quality are fantastic, their claim that without something like this you’re at regular television’s mercy for how to be entertained is pretty laughable.The Odyssey is impressive, but the game offerings were just as limited in their variety as TV was at the time.

A few things stand out from this film for me – first off, the adapter used to connect it to your TV.

AdapterAnybody who was into gaming pre-Nintendo 64 and Playstation remembers this idea – you had to trick your TV into recognizing your console as a channel.  God forbid somebody bump into this adapter while you were playing.

The system itself only generated light blocks; for the appropriate context you had to place an overlay onto the screen so that the blocks would make sense.

OverlayFar and away the most impressive thing about the Odyssey is it’s design.  The thing is gorgeous.  The cartridges themselves look like something out of the HAL shutdown scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Odyssey.  Odyssey.  Whoah.

CartridgesThe game offerings were pretty slim, but compared to the other systems that simply offered variations on Pong it must have felt like quite a library indeed.

ArrayThis time period is such a unique snapshot in the history of home video games – the point just before the wave breaks and the whole industry starts to really form.  It’s easy to laugh at the crudeness of some of the Odyssey’s offering but it’s pretty ambitious and, like I said earlier, shows that somebody really wanted this thing to work.  It’s clearly a labor of love.

Here’s a few commercials and TV showcases of the Odyssey from 1972 and 1973.  This thing is beautiful. The music on the first commercial is perfect.

Unrelated, this is supposed to be this family’s living room? What’s up with this wallpaper?

Living Room


2. Sgro Bros – How often do you see four guys killing it on the harmonica? Here are the Sgro Brothers, a trio of harmonica players, joining Herb Shriner on his show for a little jam in 1955.  After Herb gives each of them a carton of cigarettes as a welcome gift, the four of them proceed to tear it up.  Check it out:


3. Hoyt’s German Cologne – Found over at thinkdesignblog, this trade card for Hoyt’s German Cologne is gorgeous.



4. Apollo 1 At The Pool – This image of the Apollo 1 astronauts training in lounge rafts at the pool is a bit bittersweet given their fates, but it makes me smile nonetheless.

Apollo 1


5. Bryan Cranston 1996 JC Penney Commercial – I’d like to believe they just followed Cranston around with a camera while he riffed on every item in the store.