Games with cartridges

Alpex Corporation, an American computer company, files “the ‘555 Patent” for a “television display control apparatus” capable of loading software from ROM chips embedded in swappable cartridges and other media. This patent effectively shifts the infant video game industry from a hardware-based model to a software-based model, and is licensed by Fairchild Semiconductor for the first cartridge-based video game, the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (later known as Channel F), a year later; the resulting sea change forces a sudden reassessment in the R&D departments at Atari and Magnavox, among others. Due to the remarkably broad nature of patent #4026555, Alpex will be able to take nearly every video game manufacturer to court to force them to license the technology from Alpex through the early ’90s. The first major challenge to Alpex’s patent will come from Nintendo in 1986, a case that will eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 – by which time Alpex will go bankrupt pursuing the case.