Gerald A. Lawson
Tech History

Gerald A. Lawson – Black History Month

If you have anyone to thank for being the pioneer of video games, you have Mr. Gerald Lawson! He created the first home video game system with interchangeable game cartridges (the original console named the Fairchild Channel F) which would become industry standard. 

Gerald Lawson, inventor of interchangeable game console cartridges

Career and Invention

Even though Gerald would never finish his degree at Queens College or City College of New York, he joined Fairchild Semiconductor as an applications engineering consultant. While there, he would move to the ranks of Chief Hardware Engineer and director of engineering and marketing for Fairchild’s video game division after creating an early edition of the “Demolition Derby” arcade game. At the time, most video game consoles would solder the ROM storage onto the game hardware, but Lawson and his team would discover how to move the ROM to a cartridge that could be inserted and removed from a console unit. The Channel F was not a commercial success, but Atari would come to popularize it later and it would become the industry standard.

Lawson would leave Fairchild and found his own company Videosoft, that sold software to Atari and 5 years later, close the business and become a consultant.

Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club

His interest in computing led him in the 1970s of which he and Ron Jones were the only black members of the club. Famous names of the club members include Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. He has been interviewed saying he interview, but did not offer a job to Steve Wozniak.

Awards and Honors

In March 2011, Lawson was honored as an industry pioneer for his work on the game cartridge concept by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).


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