Hi there fellow gamers; as a society, we sometimes don’t see the mavericks, the real innovators, until it is too late. Jerry Lawson – changed the game by inventing something that accelerated gaming’s growth, he created the interchangeable gaming cartridge.
Jerry Lawson – changed the game from Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley the Mecca for nerds. Lawson is a big smiley man who leaves a legacy with his children and grandchildren and as an inspiration to African-American engineers. Lawson, an engineer and game designer, helped develop the Fairchild Channel F, the first cartridge-based gaming console released for commercial sale. To put this into perspective, imagine how hard it was before the cartridge and how revolutionary that invention was. We didn’t get CDs until the mid-nineties. Jerry Lawson built the foundations of a 150 billion dollar industry by basically being curious and playing around with the tech.
The Fairchild team debuted their console at the Chicago Consumer Electronics Show in June 1976. Although Lawson was not the only one who worked on the console, he was instrumental in its creation. Alan Alcorn of Atari fame and Jeremy Sucier the Assistant Vice President for Interpretation and Electronic Games acredit some of the biggest technological advances in gaming to Jerry Lawson. The advances listed are below:
- Eight way digital joystick
- Pause mechanism
- Interchangeable cartridges (obviously)
Even though Channel F did not have commercial success due to the semiconductor company’s inexperience with video games. While the competitor Atari was already at the top, and whose bread and butter were video games.
Jerry would spend his twilight years as a mentor to African-American engineers at Stanford. He fondly reminisced on an instance when a child recognised him, shook his hand, and thanked him. Jerry passed away at the age of seventy, succumbing to diabetes complications. His legacy lived on in the memories of those who knew him and the thriving gaming industry. I think he would enjoy how far we have come and how far he brought us.
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