< Back to 68k.news US front page

Google Doodle honors first Black video game engineer

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1] [2]

Dec. 2, 2022

A Google Doodle of pioneering Black video game engineer Jerry Lawson.

Navigate to Google's homepage today and you may linger longer than you'd planned.

Google's current "Doodle" — their term for the thematic animations of their homepage logo — honors pioneering Black Bay Area video game engineer Jerry Lawson, launched on what would have been his 82nd birthday (Dec. 1). Clicking the "play" button in Google's logo launches an interactive 8-bit-style side-scrolling game that tells Lawson's story. After completing the short game (it takes less than a minute) the user is presented with a menu of five more games and a basic video game programming interface for creating your own.

Lawson attended Queens College and City College of New York before moving to Palo Alto in 1968 to work for Fairchild Semiconductor as an engineering consultant. He helped develop the Fairfield Channel F system (short for "Channel Fun"), the first video game console to integrate cartridges and a joystick. Meanwhile, he worked on the first iteration of "Pong" with a team that would later go on to found Atari.

The Channel F system beat Atari's console to market in 1976, but was discontinued in 1979 and the brand was sold. Lawson moved on to start Videosoft, the first Black-founded gaming company, but he left the industry in 1985 to focus on mentoring students at Stanford. For years, his contributions to the video game industry went largely unheralded, but in the past decade his influence has come back to light, leading to the creation of the Jerry A. Lawson Award for Achievement in Game Development.

Although the Doodle will soon be replaced on Google's homepage, an archived version can be found here.

< Back to 68k.news US front page