legend dies at 70. Jerry Lawson.

Discussion in 'User Submitted News' started by shortz1994, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. shortz1994

    shortz1994 GBAtemp Maniac

    Jan 21, 2011
    United States
    Gerald "Jerry" Lawson, creator of the first cartridge-based videogame console, died Saturday morning in a Mountain View, California, hospital, Wired.com has learned. Lawson was 70.
    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.
    "Jerry was an amazing personality," said family friend David Erhart, who broke the news of Lawson's death Monday on the Digital Press website. "He created part of the videogame industry history in Silicon Valley and it was always a pleasure to hear his stories about back in the day."
    Much of Lawson's background is discussed in a wide-ranging interview he gave Vintage Computing and Gaming in 2009.
    A lifelong engineer and tinkerer, 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. In the 1970s, living and working in Silicon Valley, he joined the Homebrew Computer Club, a group of early hackers that included Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

    Lawson's contributions to videogames began with Demolition Derby, a coin-operated arcade machine that he created in his garage while working at Fairchild. "Fairchild found out about it - in fact, it was a big controversy that I had done that. And then, very quietly, they asked me if I wanted to do it for them," Lawson said in the Vintage Computing interview.
    Although similar machines were in development at Atari and RCA at the time, the console Lawson's team built for Fairchild was the first cartridge-based gaming system that came to market. Although it seems simple now, making the technology work wasn't easy.
    "There was a mechanism that allowed you to put the cartridges in without destroying the semiconductors.... We were afraid - we didn't have statistics on multiple insertion and what it would do, and how we would do it, because it wasn't done. I mean, think about it: Nobody had the capability of plugging in memory devices in mass quantity like in a consumer product. Nobody."
    Only 26 cartridges were ever released for Channel F, all simple games like Blackjack, Space War and Bowling. When Atari released its cartridge-based system, Channel F was quickly rendered obsolete. Years later, Lawson started his own company, Videosoft, to produce Atari 2600 cartridges, but only released one, a technician's tool called Color Bar Generator.
    Last month, the International Game Developers Association honored Lawson's pioneering efforts at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
    "The whole reason I did games was because people said, ‘You can't do it,'" he told the San Jose Mercury News last month. "I'm one of the guys, if you tell me I can't do something, I'll turn around and do it."
    In later years, Lawson had suffered the severe effects of diabetes. He lost sight in one eye and lost one of his legs to the disease, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. On Wednesday, not feeling well, he was admitted into El Camino Hospital Mountain View.
    "He continued building devices to control telescopes, lasers, tools, etc. up until the day he went to the hospital," said friend Erhart. "His workbench had more tools than most people would even know what to do with. He taught me quite a bit and I'll miss him sorely."
    At 6:15 a.m. Saturday, Lawson died after apparently suffering a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. The family is planning a memorial service in mid-May.

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  2. Gh0sti

    Gh0sti iOS Guru

    Aug 19, 2009
    United States
    Inside you, all around you
    cartridge man nooooooo.....next it will be teh man who created dvds or compact discs sigh such great people to die
  3. Arithmatics

    Arithmatics I'll be holding on to you. ;}

    Jan 29, 2009
    damn.. Catridge Man. [​IMG] I WILL AVENGE YOU!!!
  4. awssk8er

    awssk8er GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Jun 26, 2007
    United States
    New Jersey
    His damn technology has caused all of us countless hours of blowing!

    No, but on a serious note, R.I.P. and I love cartridges.
  5. Arithmatics

    Arithmatics I'll be holding on to you. ;}

    Jan 29, 2009
    I remember when I owned my first game handheld. A Gameboy Colour. I'd call the cartridges "caskets" because I didn't know what they were and I never fully heard what my parents called them. R.I.P
  6. Warrior522

    Warrior522 "In all things, balance."

    Jul 21, 2010
    United States
    Adios, cartridge dude. Thanks for everything. [​IMG]
  7. Blaze163

    Blaze163 The White Phoenix's purifying flame.

    Nov 19, 2008
    Coventry, UK
    Almost all of my favourite games of all time are stored on cartridges of some kind. Everything from Lylat Wars and Ocarina of Time to Super Mario Bros 3. Cartridges are largely responsible for keeping me sane for the last twenty years, holding some of the greatest escapism ever devised by man. So Mr Lawson, I salute you.

    I dread to think what it'll be like when Miyamoto eventually goes. That'll be damn sad day for humanity.
  8. m3rox

    m3rox GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Nov 13, 2006
    United States
    By 'us' I assume you mean other gays.

    Sucks the dude died so young. RIP Mr. Lawson.
  9. impizkit

    impizkit Lazy Lurker

    Apr 6, 2010
    This makes you sound like a douchebag. What a pioneer and his work is enjoyed by us all everyday.
  10. Sop

    Sop groovy dude lmao

    Nov 14, 2010
    He must have been pretty innovative to create those things.. I use them everyday in my life. R.I.P Cartridge Man.
  11. ZAFDeltaForce

    ZAFDeltaForce Specialist

    Sep 9, 2006
    This is most unfortunate. I hope he had a long and full life before his passing though

    To Cartridge Man, I Salute!
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