Photo: NYTimes
Lawson is highlighted in the new Netflix docu-series, High Point. Photo: NYTimes

The Black man who created the individual game console

One of the few African-American engineers of his time, Lawson was the creator of Fairchild Channel F, the beginning of modern video game systems.


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On Aug. 19, a new docu-series, High Score, that covers the beginning of gaming and starts with Jerry Lawson. 

The six-episode series goes throughout the history of gaming covering its rise, fall, and reinvention that led to its explosion into what it is today.. 

Contrary to the common misconception that a CIS white man invented everything and was held to the highest regard, not all amazing things have been created by one race and gender. 

Throughout the show, different people are credited for the brilliance that is now modern-day gaming from Xbox to PS4, and none more than Lawson 

He was an electronic engineer, and his love for gaming began with messing around with the arcade games he had in his garage. Lawson eventually led a team of people who would later be responsible for the Channel F video game console in 1976. 

The role he played, and fulfilled, was to create interchangeable gaming cartridges. This would allow the consumers to play different games endlessly, on one machine. 

The system was later adapted by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which would proceed to dominate the gaming world after its launch in 1983. 

Lawson was born in New York City in 1940. He attended Queens College and his passion for computing led him to Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club. 

At the time, he was the only Black member of that organization.

Today, video gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry. 

As quickly as the world moves, so does video gaming. In a world where we are looking for more diversity in companies, Lawson, a pioneer in technology, is someone who began a movement that defines a large part of the entertainment industry 45 years later. 


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