Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. I, Issue 1    June 1994

Odyssey 1: A Glance at the Past

By Adam Trionfo

Odyssey 1: System

I've been looking for an inexpensive Odyssey² system in working condition for quite some time. Finding an Odyssey 1 was something that I did not think possible, so the thought never actually occurred to me.

Let it be said that I was overwhelmed with pleasure when I indeed came across an Odyssey 1, complete in the box and apparently undamaged.

Before I continue, I have to say that I have been unable to connect the system to my television. The box contained everything but a switchbox. The cord from the Odyssey will not fit into a regular, Atari-type switchbox. By next issue, I am hoping to be able to review how the system plays, but until then, I will review what the basic system contains.

Odyssey 1: Cards

Since I have been unable to find any information about this machine, all the information included in this article was gathered from the manual, and through careful examination of the system. In order to keep the facts straight, I will be very clear about what I read about the system vs. what I think about it.

First, with quite a bit of effort, I managed to remove the shipping box from the Odyssey box itself, which measures 17" x 17" x 6". It is colorful, showing several pictures of people playing and enjoying the games. The side of the box displays the twelve games that are contained within.

Odyssey 1: Overlays

All right, time to look inside. The box lifts off the Styrofoam to reveal all the system accessories, which include six cartridges, three sets of cards for as many different games, twenty TV overlays (ten each, for both a 19" and 25" TV set), a few roulette chips, a die, and three stickers (for the games Ski, States and Cat & Mouse. These stickers have never been used before!). Finally, there is a booklet that contains the instructions for each game, plus how to set up the system.

The Odyssey is inside a Styrofoam case that separates into halves. The console is white, with a black top. The two controllers are actually paddles mounted sideways onto small box frames. It is interesting to note that the system does not include a power supply, but does include six batteries to run the system. The manual states, "The external power jack may be used to connect an optional, external, 9-volt power adapter." It doesn't get more specific than that.

Odyssey 1: Controllers

I find this hard to believe, but the copyright of the system is 1972. I suspect that this might just be when the name Odyssey was first copyrighted, not the system itself. The reason is that Atari Pong didn't arrive until 1972. I'm probably wrong (and if so, please someone correct me!), but a cartridge system in 1972?

I wonder if any additional, separately sold cartridges were made for this system. I never heard of any, but I have never heard anything about this system at all, except in passing. The real reason I knew it existed was that there was an Odyssey².

I wish I could give more information, but I am at a loss. When I get this system up and running, hopefully by next issue, we can see what it is made of. By the way, if anyone knows how much the Odyssey cost when it was released, I would be interested to know.