Google Doodle commemorated Gerald Lawson, the pioneering inventor of the video game cartridge, on his 82nd birthday on Thursday, November 30.
Gerald was an electronics engineer in the United States. He is known for leading the team that developed and designed the first video game cartridge for commercial use.
Google honored Gerald with its Google Doodle feature that allows people to play a number of mini games.
Gerald Lawson’s company, VideoSoft, was one of the first video game developers
Born in New York in 1940, Lawson had a knack for repairing electronic devices from an early age. He even fixed TVs and built his own radio station from store-bought parts.
He attended Queens College and also attended City University in New York. But he did not complete his studies at either institution. In 1970, Gerald moved to San Francisco where he took on the role of an application engineering consultant at Fairchild Semiconductor.
During that time, Gerald developed a coin-operated machine arcade game in his garage, called the Demolition Derby.
Gerald left the company in 1980 and built his own company called VideoSoft. It is one of the first video game development houses owned by black people.
Gerald led the team that won the video game cartridge, which was popularized in the Atari 2600 software developed by VideoSoft. They were also the creators of the Fairchild Channel video game system.
The company closed after five years. However, Lawson continued his work by consulting with multiple video game companies throughout the remainder of his professional career.
The video game system developed by Gerald Lawson came with interchangeable game cartridges. He has been called the “father of the video game cartridge” for his sincere contribution.
Jeremy Saucier, who works as assistant vice president for electronic games and interpretation in New York, wrote of Gerald Lawson in an email:
“Jerry Lawson played a critical role in laying the foundations for today’s $150 billion video game industry.”
Vintage Computing and Gaming editor-in-chief Benj Edwards, who interviewed Gerald in 2009, also wrote:
“Jerry was a big name in Silicon Valley in the 1970s because people came to him for Fairchild semiconductor chips. It’s nice to know there was a black guy in that position at the time, and you know his story must be great been to get him there.”
Gerald Lawson’s video game cartridges depicted in the Google-Doodle minigames
Google Doodle designed a small library of minigames similar to the early 1970s video games. As the game starts and progresses, little bits of information about Lawson’s career appear on the screen.
Users can also use the spell and make some useful changes to the game to remove obstacles.
Gerald Lawson’s contribution to the world of video games was on the verge of being forgotten until he was recognized as an industry pioneer by the International Game Developers Association in 2011. Sadly, Gerald passed away just a month later. But Lawson’s legacy has lived on ever since.
The first game in the collection of pixelated minigames on Google Doodle begins with an 8-bit figure of Gerald Lawson whose goal is to reach the flag. The other games are similar in their approach, only with different types of paths to run and different obstacles to clear.
The minigames are displayed as cartridges that can be played or edited by the players. One can also delete the game defeated after playing once and can then start again from the beginning. There is also an option to share the number of levels reached.