What Was The World’s First Handheld Electronic Game?
Answer: Auto Race
The world’s first handheld electronic game was introduced by the Mattel corporation in 1976. Although incredibly simple by today’s handheld gaming standards, it was a revolutionary departure from the mechanical handheld amusements of the time.
Auto Race was at heart, literally, a calculator. Designers from Mattel approached Mark Lesser, a circuit design engineer at Rockwell International in their micro-electronics division. They challenged him to create a game that could use existing calculator microprocessors to drive a completely electronic game. The outcome of the project was Auto Race, a completely electronic game which was driven by tiny calculator processor, written entirely in assembly language, and that required less than 512 bytes of ROM space.
Players controlled the game via three electric switches used to start/reset the game, shift gears, and change lanes on the tiny monochromatic screen.
Although Auto Race is officially the first handheld electronic game, it lived in the shadow of Football, Mattel’s wildly successful second foray into the electronic handheld market released shortly after Auto Race.