Though you may not know his name, Jerry Lawson helped lay the groundwork for all modern gaming consoles. As chief hardware engineer for Fairchild Semiconductor’s game division in the 1970s, Lawson was largely responsible for the Fairchild Channel F—the first console to include its own microchip and the first to use cartridges.
Lawson was also black. And as this Black History Month winds down, it’s worth reflecting on his achievements because Lawson succeeded in Silicon Valley at a time when opportunities for black engineers and inventors were severely limited (even more so than today). As The New York Times once put it, “He was among only a handful of black engineers in the world of electronics in general and electronic gaming in particular.”