With Pong being prominently mentioned in a couple of forum threads recently, I just had to pick up a Pong console off eBay...
I wanted one of the Sears Tele-Games models, because those were the first ones sold (I have no idea of this one's actual manufacturing date however).
This one is in amazing condition, especially considering its age. It works perfectly fine, there's almost no wear to speak of, and it just needed a little TLC with some Windex and a toothbrush to clean it up. The left pot needs a little contact cleaner, but it's not bad - just a little jittery.
The picture is very crisp, especially considering it's running on a 35-year-old TV.
And no - the score doesn't stay on the screen while you're playing. It only appears between serves. But the photos looked empty without it.
When the game ends, a checkerboard pattern moves around on screen:
I guess this was just a way to let you know the game had ended, and was probably something easy to display. Plus it adds a little pizazz to it.
It also came with an original Sears Pong "Battery Eliminator" which is still the coolest name ever for an AC adapter. I think Radio Shack may have called them that, too.
Having never owned a dedicated console before, a couple of things surprised me:
- It's battery-powered. It seems strange now, but at the time it would've been marketed as an electronic toy, and all of those were battery-powered. But again, you could buy a "Battery Eliminator" for it.
- The speaker is built-in. No sound comes through the TV. Not sure why, except, again, it's effectively an electronic toy, so that would have been expected at the time. It just makes a couple of different beeps, and there's no volume control. I don't know when videogame consoles started using the TV for sound, but this better explains why there are unused speaker grills in the 2600.
And yes - it will be making an appearance in a certain Atari-themed comic strip at some point.