Instead of an arcade game I decided to highlight the Atari Video Music which came out in 1976. Here’s what Atari had to say about their new product “The Video Music adds a whole new dimension to the high fidelity listening experience. For the first time ever, you can SEE the music you hear. You can explore a limitless range of brilliant shapes, patterns and colors, visually synchronized on your TV screen to the music from your stereo system.” As great as that sounds the Video Music didn’t sell that well and was discontinued after about a year.
The Video Music was the first electronic music visualizer and it would generates real-time images on your TV that move in sync with the music that is feed into it. The idea came from Robert Brown with support from Harold Lee the two guys that came up with the idea of building a home version of Atari’s Pong. With the help of fellow Atari engineers Carl Nielson and Al Alcorn they designed the Custom IC that was to be the brains of the device. Later when Alcorn was asked about the product he responded “It was somewhat ironic it came from Bob Brown as he seemed to be the most Conservative “adult” engineer we had.”
I really like my AVM. I use it quite a bit and keep it plugged into my stereo all the time. There are fancier looking visualizers out there. Most media players for the PC come with some version built-in nowadays but to me they just don’t sync to the music the way this machine does.
They are fairly scarce and usually are not cheap if you do find one. It is probably not everyone’s cup of tea but it was a must have for me. If you do find one and want to hook it up it is suggested to always plug the unit into the wall before you plug in the RCA inputs there’s a grounding issue that could allow static electricity to damage the circuitry.