Google Doodle honors Jerry Lawson, Black engineer who led first commercial game cartridge system

If you need a slight diversion at work today, you can head to Google to check out Thursday’s Google Doodle.

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The homepage’s interactive graphic pays tribute to Gerald “Jerry” Lawson, a Black engineer who was the lead inventor of video game cartridges, 9 to 5 Google reported.

According to Google, Lawson was born in New York on Dec. 1, 1940. While growing up he would build his own radio station using recycled parts. He attended Queens College and City College of New York but eventually moved to Palo Alto, California.

He joined Fairchild Semiconductor as an engineering consultant but eventually was promoted to the company’s video game department as the Director of Engineering and Marketing. Lawson led the team that created the Fairchild Channel F system, the first home video game with interchangeable cartridges and an 8-way digital joystick. The Channel F was the precursor of Atari and the systems that followed.

Lawson left Fairchild and started VideoSoft, one of the first Black-owned video game companies. He and his team created games for Atari 2600. While VideoSoft lasted only five years, Lawson continued to be a consultant for engineering and video game companies throughout the rest of his career, according to Google.

He was recognized for his contributions by the International Game Developers Association in 2011 and he was memorialized at the World Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York.

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