Headlines From The Past: “Video Games Called Safe For TV Screen” (December 21, 1976)
Earlier this week, we provided an edition of “Headlines From The Past” from 1977, which talked about the possibility of screen burn-in from prolonged use of video game consoles. In the article, there was a lot of talk about how the manufacturers had been warning both consumers and retailers to not use the systems for an extended period of time since it could cause screen burn-in, especially on black and white television sets. Ironically, this is not the first time in the early days of home video games that this was a concern. We pulled up an article from exactly 1 year prior, which was originally published in the Spokane Daily Chronicle in Spokane, Washington, from December 21, 1976. This time, the article claims the opposite, up to a point.
This article discusses more about the tests that were done by Atari (makers of home Pong systems at the time of publish) and Magnavox (makers of the original Odyssey and many Pong clones at the time of publish.) Behind the scenes, both companies tried to prove that the systems would not damage a typical television set. What’s interesting is that even though the article says that the games were deemed “save” for home sets, both Magnavox and Atari admitted that burn in did happen with extended use, but mostly only if the TVs were used for display at a store showing the same images for hours a week, or if the sets were used for testing the products at the companies themselves. Of course, as I mentioned in the last “Headlines From The Past“, burn-in had been a concern for many years after these initial systems were created. So what did Magnavox and Atari find in their testings? Let’s read on.
Spokane Daily Chronicle
Tuesday, December 21, 1976
Year 91 Issue 79
VIDEO GAMES CALLED SAFE FOR TV SCREEN
“WASHINGTON (AP) – The home video screen games that are currently a hot item on Christmas shopping lists won’t leave hot tracks burned in the TV screen if they’re turned off occasionally, their manufacturers say.
Spokesmen for Magnavox and Atari, the two leading companies in the field, said their test results partially debunked reports that extended use of the games will leave outlines on a TV screen when the games are not in use.
A Canadian government consumer agency issues a warning recently about ghostly images left on screens after prolonged use. And the Federal Trade Commission said it was looking into the problem.
A Magnavox spokesman said: “We left one set on 72 hours to test, and there was no imprint. We left one on for 2,000 hours, and there was burning.”
Magnavox said it was informing dealers not to leave the games on continuously.
An Atari spokesman said his company has undamaged TV sets that have been used on the assembly line for a full year, testing the games. He said the marks which are left on the screen can seen only when the television is off.
The video games are home versions of games introduced several years ago in taverns and amusement arcades. Players attack them to a television set, where they produce a “tennis” or “hockey” field on the screen, with a moving blip of light that is putted back and forth using moving bars of light controlled by knobs on the game’s control box.”