Blip: The Digital Game
By James Grahame
It's hard to believe that a game like Tomy Blip could captivate a generation, but it was high on many Christmas lists in 1977. The game was a simple electromechanical version of Atari Pong: an LED bounced back and forth across the court, powered by a windup timer. The only reason the unit required 2 x AA batteries was to light the little LED ball on the play field. And -- although I never realized it as a kid -- there is something incredibly ironic about a unit marketed as "The Digital Game" which makes a mechanical "bZzzz... Bzzz... bzzz..." noise as you play.
Tomy sold millions of these little portables, no doubt riding on the success of Atari's much more expensive electronic TV games. I remember gazing at one for hours in the back pages of the Sears Christmas Wishbook, imagining it as far more pong-like than it really was. Perhaps the real secret of Blip's success was hidden in the tag line on the box: "Take it anywhere. No TV set is needed." Parents probably envisioned a portable game as a great way to keep kids from taking over the living room TV set so they wouldn't miss James Garner receiving his weekly pistol whippings on The Rockford Files.
Tomy Blip [handheldmuseum.com]