The combination of a game console and a computer was a holy grail pursued by the video game industry since its early stages, a quest that continued right into the modern age. Of course, these days, all you need to add to a console is a keyboard and mouse; the Playstations and Xboxes of today are merely home computers that you can’t upgrade, with which you use your television as a monitor. It was a pursuit that helped send the whole industry over a cliff in 1983 – 84. You’d think that they would have taken heed of the Odyssey², an early attempt at mashing up a computer and console released by Magnavox in 1978, and which struggled to maintain market share against heavy-hitters like the Atari VCS/2600 and Mattel’s Intellivision.
The O2 had a 49 key membrane keyboard baked right into the design. Advertising for the console revolved around this fact, which unfortunately ended up as mere novelty. Outside of players being able to enter their name in some games, and a nifty type and speak program paired with The Voice speech synthesizer, the keyboard was under-utilized by game makers and no storage options were offered to highlight the system as a computer.
With specifications lacking when put up against other consoles, and games that failed to leverage its keyboard, the Odyssey² ran a perennial third in the early video game race and quietly disappeared in the big videogame flameout.
For more information on the history of the Odyssey² consult your local Dot Eaters entry.