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Did you know one of the fathers of modern-day gaming was a Black man? Well, if you didn’t, now you know, and Google is honoring the late pioneer with a fitting Google Doodle.
Thursday, December 1, the Google Doodle honors Gerald “Jerry” Lawson on what would have been his 82nd birthday. Lawson forever lives in the pantheon of video games because he was one of the many who led the team who developed the first home video gaming system with interchangeable cartridges.
Today’s Google Doodle honors him and his epic contributions to the world of video games by featuring games designed by three American guest artists and game designers: Davionne Gooden, Lauren Brown, and Momo Pixel.
You will be transported to a retro video game interface when you click on the Google Doodle. The first game will have you controlling a mini Lawson while learning about his history.
The interactive experience will also allow you to get your game design on by allowing you to edit the level, encourage you to create your own game, and try out other classic game designs.
How Gerald “Jerry” Lawson Influenced The World of Video Games
Lawson was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940 and showed an interest in electronics at an early age. He would repair television around his neighborhood and create his own radio station out of recycled parts.
He would go on to attend Queens College and City College of New York before moving to Palo Alto, California, which is now best known as Silicon Valley, to start his career.
Fairchild Semiconductor would become Lawson’s place of employment, where he served as an engineering consultant before being promoted to Director of Engineering and Marketing of Fairchild’s video game department a few years later.
He would go on to lead the team who made the Fairchild Channel F system (the “F” stood for fun!), the first home video game system console that featured interchangeable game cartridges, an 8-way digital joystick, and a pause menu.
Lawson left Fairchild in 1980 to start his company, VideoSoft, one of the earliest Black-owned video game development companies. Lawson’s company developed games for the Atari 2600, which made popular Lawson and his team’s cartridge designs cementing his status as a pioneer.
Shoutout to Google for honoring a legend.
Photo: Google / Gerald “Jerry” Lawson Google Doodle