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Today’s Google Doodle celebrates one of gaming’s hidden figures

 


In the long run of famous names in the gaming industry, there is one that is often left out of the conversation. Gerald Jerry Lawson, the engineer responsible for developing the video game cartridge, is the subject of his Google Doodle today, among other great achievements. His name may not be as recognizable as the likes of Carmack, Romero, Bushnell, etc., but Lawson was on the cusp of video game growth long before many of these prominent startups even hung their shingles. and played an important role in its development.

Today’s Google Doodle is an interactive celebration of Gerald Jerry Lawson’s contributions to gaming.Image: Google

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Lawson began his career as an engineering consultant in the games division of Fairchild Semiconductor in San Francisco. Here he developed his first game, eventually being promoted to chief his hardware his engineer and the first cartridge-based home his console, where he oversaw the development of the Fairchild Channel F.

Home consoles have been around for a while, but their programming had to be built into the hardware (think like an arcade cabinet) and you couldn’t use separate software. That is, until Lawson and his team developed a ROM cartridge that allowed various software to be swapped onto the console’s motherboard.

This has opened up a whole new revenue stream for developers as they no longer need to develop dedicated hardware for their games and can continue to add to the console’s existing library after it ships.

The cartridge is smaller, but works on the same principle developed by Jerry Lawson.

Gaming giants such as Atari and Activision have built their empires on the work Lawson and his team did. Although gaming has moved far away from cartridges and other physical media, Lawson’s contributions are still reflected today in Nintendo’s physical cartridges for his Switch.

Lawson’s contribution to developing video games as a sustainable entertainment medium is immeasurable. He attended both Queen’s College and New York City College, but he never completed a degree.

Unfortunately, Lawson passed away in 2011 from complications of diabetes, but not before he was recognized as an industry pioneer for his work by the International Game Developers Association.

If you want to learn more about Lawson and his story, I recommend checking out the three-part audiobook Raising the Game: The Untold Story of Jerry Lawson by Anthony Frasier. However, for a more interactive tour of gaming history, we recommend checking out Atari 50, a playable collection of gaming’s most influential titles.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.theverge.com/2022/12/1/23488375/gerald-jerry-lawson-google-doodle-gaming-pioneer-inventor-cartridge

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