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Thread: T.V. Tennis by Marx ( 1974 )

  1. #1
    Cherry (Level 1) GamerTheGreek's Avatar
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    Default T.V. Tennis by Marx ( 1974 )

    I came across this cool item today and wanted to share it with everyone here. After 38 yrs, most everything works on it. The light works ( the puck lights up ), the gears for the controls and scoring work, No chips cracks missing pieces of plastic on the field. Does have a missing batt cover but thats to be expected on something this old at a flea market.

    Heres a little back round on this cool little unit ( from: http://www.grandoldtoys.com )

    By 1974 the Marx Company was on its way out. It had been purchased two years earlier by Quaker Oats and in two years following it would be sold off in bankruptcy to a holding company. The same year was a turning point for the toy industry because it marked the beginning of the revolutionary home video market with the introduction of PONG.

    To capitalize on this quickly growing market, Marx produced their own version of the super selling PONG....well, soft of. For a number of reasons, mostly financial, the Marx version of PONG did not use any digital technology. Contradictory to the current trend it was completely analog. In other words it was a battery operated mechanical PONG with gears and lights. It also was completely styrene plastic.

    Since the toy was not a digital system which connected to a TV, Marx built their toy to resemble an entire television set complete with tube, screen and housing. It had no electronic components except for a motor and a light bulb. It used a delicately balanced cantilevered plastic lever tipped with a glowing light bulb. The bulb represented the tennis ball. A small battery powered motor moved plastic gears which, in turn, moved the position of the lever and the light bulb.

    As the motor changed the position of the "ball", players controlling the paddle's would hit the bulb when it approached their side. The bulb would bounce off the paddle and return it in the opposite direction. If the lever made it past the paddle it would physically strike a bell signaling a goal. Score was kept manually with a rotating wheel on the top of the set. It couldn't have been more simple. It was also big, bulky, and difficult to move without breaking unless you reinserted the shipping bolt which locks in the cantilever mechanism. The bolt was the first thing to remove when it was unpacked for the first time and was probably the first thing thrown away.

    The box for this toy looks very spectacular with staged color photography and caricature illustrations drawn by Mad Magazine's Jack Davis. It gave the toy a more polished appearance, but the problem was that inside the box was still an analog system. No wiring (except for the batteries), no electronic boards, no chips, no technology. A couple of gears and a well engineered system was all it took to make it possible, but it was not PONG.











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    Strawberry (Level 2) AdamAnt316's Avatar
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    Default

    Very cool! I once saw one of these at a flea market, but decided not to get it because it seemed pretty cheesy (and may have been damaged, I'm not entirely sure). I did end up buying an actual Atari Super Pong Ten there that same day, so I didn't lose out on much "TV tennis" fun!

    Gotta make a slight correction, however:
    Quote Originally Posted by Grand Old Toys (by way of GamerTheGreek) View Post
    To capitalize on this quickly growing market, Marx produced their own version of the super selling PONG....well, soft of. For a number of reasons, mostly financial, the Marx version of PONG did not use any digital technology. Contradictory to the current trend it was completely analog. In other words it was a battery operated mechanical PONG with gears and lights. It also was completely styrene plastic.

    The box for this toy looks very spectacular with staged color photography and caricature illustrations drawn by Mad Magazine's Jack Davis. It gave the toy a more polished appearance, but the problem was that inside the box was still an analog system. No wiring (except for the batteries), no electronic boards, no chips, no technology. A couple of gears and a well engineered system was all it took to make it possible, but it was not PONG.
    Actually, most, if not all, Pong games from the '70s were completely analog. Little to no digital circuitry to be found, with the paddle and ball generated entirely by means of analog circuitry, and controlled by analog paddles (still a popular form of game control, in the form of analog joysticks). Possibly the only digital aspect was the on-screen scoring (on units so equipped), but even then, I'm not entirely sure. The term they should've used was "electro-mechanical" rather than analog or electronic. Still a neat description, though.
    -Adam

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