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Day 10: Modern video game systems’ innovation began with Gerald Lawson

28 Days of Black History

Public domain photo.

Public domain photo.

Kids today who enjoy playing video games in the comfort of their own homes can thank one black man’s invention which helped make it possible today.

Gerald A. Lawson, a self-taught electronic engineer, created the first home video game system with interchangeable game cartridges in the 1970s. Before  PlayStation and Xbox systems, and even before simple Donkey Kong and Pac Mac games, Lawson lead a division at the company Fairchild Semiconductor when it introduced a console that allowed users to play games contained on removable cartridges. Before then, video game systems had games built into the machine.

Before his career took off, Lawson was a hobbyist and one of two black people at the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley, which also included Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Lawson died in 2011 at the age of 70.

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