Dec 18, 2012
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Lark Programmable TV Game and the Pong clones of the 1970′s.

We can look back and see the time when the black and white images of the first televisions lit up lucky homes around the world. It was a revolution in entertainment that the whole family and jealous neighbours would have been amazed by.

So it wouldn’t be a surprise that this would have been the same amazing experience when video games started stamping their mark on the world. Pong and its many clones showed how interactive entertainment was possible and well, the world hasn’t looked back.

 

The Lark Programmable TV Game (TVG-868) released around 1978.

The Lark Programmable TV Game (TVG-868) released around 1978.

The Lark TVG-868 was one of many, many Pong clones that were built to cash in on the craze around the world. This one in particular was made by the Hong Kong manufacturer for the Australian market, and released around 1978.

It came with cartridges that provided many Pong style games and variations. Most of course were very simple based on the bat and ball style gaming. Controlled with two simple game controllers, they didn’t automatically centre so it takes just a little getting used when you first play it.

Here’s a great site that features hundreds of consoles, prototypes and information on Pong clones around the world.

lark_box

 

Pong was originally created concieved by Ralph Baer, a TV engineer who had a unique vision to create simple games that people could play on their televisions. He’s known within the gaming community as the father of video gaming. His idea was eventually sold to Magnavox who released the first home game system called the Odyssey in 1972 which sold 350,000 units across the U.S. Here’s a great recent interview with Ralph Baer, he talks about the history of the game, and has very great historical items in his archive.

Here are some ads from the time that give you an idea of how it worked and illustrates how it’s games were largely assisted by TV screen overlays. It would have been very cool to be a kid who’s family owned this system.

 

During the early 1970′s, during the early days of the Magnavox Odyssey it’s alleged that Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was at an early viewing of this new gaming system. It’s what’s said to have spurred him on to create Atari and also the first arcade bat and ball arcade game, Pong.

Here’s a great video that delves a little into the early days of Atari and the success that he created with Pong.

 

 

lark_controller

The game system was released among a glut of Pong clones during the mid to late 1970′s. This was designed for the Australian market.

 

Lark TV Game cartridges had simple, built in games that could be played with 1 or 2 players.

Lark TV Game cartridges had simple, built in games that could be played with 1 or 2 players.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I plugged the system into latest technology TV. It took a little time to tune in the game, but sure enough it worked! Easy to play, and quite a bit of fun for a while.

The game worked on my big screen TV!

The game worked on my big screen TV!

I think we have all been well and truly spoiled over the years as we get to enjoy unlimited interactive gaming experiences any time we would like. Through the collector’s community there’s a great global preservation happening for all this gaming history – including the new generations of gamers.

Front view of the Lark TV Game System.

Front view of the Lark TV Game System.

 

Here are some more Pong links if you would like to learn more:

Pong Museum

Pong-story.com

 

 

2 Comments

  • I recently found my old Lark when cleaning out our family holiday house cupboards.
    Its Christmas 2012 and my kids 11, 10 and 8 have thrown aside their iPods and DS games to play Pong, Road Race and Tank Battle.
    Oldie but certainly a goodie.
    Will

    • Hiya Will, that’s great that you’ve been able to introduce it to a new generation! Thanks for stopping by! Glad they get to enjoy a little of the golden years of Video Gaming. Cheers.

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