The first Black Video Game Engineer and Designer and inventor of the modern game console, Gerald “Jerry” Lawson (December 1, 1940 – April 9, 2011).
“At a time when the computer and video game industry was primarily filled with Caucasian males, Jerry Lawson was an innovator. He created of the first cartridge based video game console (the Fairchild Channel F), designed of one of the fir…st coin-op arcade games (Demolition Derby), was the head of Videosoft, an early independent developer for the Atari 2600, and the first African American in the video game industry to achieve such accomplishments.”
Lawson was born in 1940 and grew up in a federal housing project in Queens, New York. As a kid, he operated a ham radio; as a teenager he earned money by repairing his neighbors’ television sets.
As an engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor, Lawson designed the electronics of the Fairchild Video Entertainment System, later renamed the Channel F, in 1976.
Predating the release of Atari’s Video Computer System by a year, the Channel F was the first videogame machine that used interchangeable game cartridges, which Fairchild sold separately. Previous game machines like Atari’s Pong and the Magnavox Odyssey had all their games built into the hardware.
Lawson’s pioneering design set the standard for the game consoles of today.