Jerry Lawson

Jerry Lawson – A Father of Modern Gaming!

You most likely have not heard of Jerry Lawson.  But there is a good chance he has impacted your life!  Especially if you’ve ever played a video game.

Childhood Inventions

Jerry Lawson had a love of science and invention from a very young age.  And, with support from his family and teachers, he took that love and helped change the world for billions of people, when he invented the modern video game cartridge.

Both of Jerry’s parents supported his love of science and invention. His father, a longshoreman, was a science bug and encouraged Jerry to always experiment with things. Jerry’s first-grade teacher helped encourage him on his path to be someone influential similar to George Washington Carver, a great African American inventor. His first love in school was chemistry but he wound up liking electronics even more.

He earned an amateur ham radio license at age 13 and built his own radio station in his room, with an antenna hanging out of his window! Jerry earned money fixing television sets, visiting people’s homes for in-house repair, and also working at local electronics stores. Jerry also made walkie-talkies and sold them to other kids. He spent many Saturdays at an electronics store, that had all of the parts he needed for his inventions. He would use his small allowance and money he earned to buy parts to help fuel his inventions.

Inventing an Industry

When he was a young adult, Jerry joined Fairchild Semiconductor as an engineer. During this time, he created his own video arcade game, Demolition Derby, in his garage.

A few years later, Jerry was asked to work on a secret project. Not even his boss was allowed to know what he was doing! What it turned out to be was that he was designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console and leading the team that invented the video game cartridge. This was the first of its kind and enabled kids around the world to affordably play video games at home.

Just like with automobiles, many advances have occurred since the invention of video games. Video games are now one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the world. But all of this would not have been possible without the vision, passion, and skill of Jerry Lawson and his team.

Check out more about his inspiring story in the video below…

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • Jerry took his love of electronics and turned it into a career. What do you love to do?  How can you get better at it?   Can you use your passion to help others?
  • What character traits does Jerry exhibit? How did they impact his life?

Take Action:

  • Learn how you can become a video game designer in our Careers that Count series
  • Do you like video game racing. Check out the GT Academy website to see how you can take your passion for online racing into the real world!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.
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