Google Doodle Celebrates Video Game Pioneer Gerald Jerry Lawson’s Birthday

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New York: Today’s Google doodle is dedicated to Gerald “Jerry” Lawson, one of the fathers of modern gaming who led the team that developed the first home video gaming system with interchangeable game cartridges. The doodle has been designed by Davionne Gooden, Lauren Brown, and Momo Pixel.

Lawson was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 1, 1940. He tinkered with electronics from an early age, repairing televisions around his neighborhood and creating his own radio station using recycled parts. He attended Queens College and City College of New York before departing early to start his career in Palo Alto, California. At the time, the city and its surrounding region had become known as “Silicon Valley” due to the explosion of new, innovative tech companies starting up in the area.

Upon arriving in California, Lawson joined Fairchild Semiconductor as an engineering consultant. A few years later, Lawson was promoted to Director of Engineering and Marketing of Fairchild’s video game department where he led the development of the Fairchild Channel F system. This was the first home video game system console that featured interchangeable game cartridges, an 8-way digital joystick and a pause menu. The Channel F paved the way for future gaming systems like the Atari, SNES, Dreamcast and more.

In 1980, he left Fairchild and started his own company, VideoSoft—one of the earliest Black-owned video game development companies. The company created software for the Atari 2600, which popularised the cartridge Lawson that his team developed. Although they closed five years later, Lawson had solidified himself as a pioneer in the industry and continued to consult multiple engineering and video game companies throughout the rest of his career.

Gerald Gerry Lawson’s achievements are memorialised at the World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York.

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