Black History: Jerry Lawson (1940-2011), The Creator Of The Video Game Cartridge

image In the spirit of Black History Month and recoginizing the contributions of African-Americans in architecture, videogames, technology, and professional wrestling, I’d like to begin with Jerry Lawson.

Mr. Lawson, known as the “Father of Video Game Cartridges,” is the engineer who lead and contributed design ideas on the Fairchild Channel F development team. The team would later program, create and release the Fairchild Channel F system in 1976, becoming the first cartridge-based video game console. Mr. Lawson joined Fairchild Semiconductor in 1970, later joining and heading the company’s video game division. His division at Fairchild would later launch the Channel F System in 1976 (under the original name, Fairchild Video Entertainment System) to early and decent success. The interchangable cartridge style of video game consoles that began with the Channel F, and continued with the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Intellivision, NES, Genesis, SNES and Nintendo 64, still has influence today (despite the change to optical and digital media) with Nintendo’s DS line and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Vita.

“The whole reason I did games was because people said, ‘You can’t do it,’ ” Lawson told the Mercury News in an interview in early 2011. “I’m one of the guys, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll turn around and do it.” Mr. Lawson was honored in early 2011 by the Independent Game Developers Association (IGDA) for his pioneering work in gaming and technology.

[Thanks VC&G and Peter Fuller for the picture]

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