The Handheld Museum: A tribute to the early history of handheld gaming

Mattel Classic Football - The handheld Alpha Dog

Mattel's Football (I) (1977, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2024)
U. S. Patent # 4,162,792 (game) and 4,344,622 (display technology)
Invented by: George Klose and Richard Chang (according to the patent)
Programmed by: Mark Lesser
View Manual / View 1st Football game, plated in 24k gold!

Football was released in 1977. It was labelled either Football or Football I depending on the date the game was released. I guess Mattel continued to make (or at least ship remaining stock of) the original Football even after Football 2 came out, thus the change to the game's title. Both the game and the box reflect the addition of the roman numeral I (and the box for Football I is smaller than the original as the game is packed in a plastic bubble-wrap bag instead of the styrofoam blocks). The font style used on the pre-I version is also different. Also, early models of Football had an AC Adapter jack which was removed on later models (which would only run on batteries). (I recently found an interesting variation on this game: A Football that I recently received (that just says Football, older version), has little round blips instead of the tiny horizontal lines that usually make up the blips on these games. Never seen one like that before. I've been told by a Mattel employee that these diodes where never changed in production, so this must be a foreign market version to have the different diodes. It also has a slightly different sticker on the back: the 'Try Fresh batteries' text is written in a black bar on the sticker, not just normal text like most of the Football games.)

A little game history: This was released in June of 1977 as the second game released by Mattel (Auto Race was the first) and sold through Sears. After less than 100,000 were made, Sears (using a computer model based on initial sales figures) determined that the games would not be big sellers, and most of the production for Football and Auto Race was stopped. Within 6 months, it became obvious to Sears that their prediction was wrong, and production was started up again and reached previously unknown levels! (Reaching as many as 500,000 units a week by mid-February, 1978). Check out the Mattel trivia section for several more interesting stories about this and other Mattel games (like why the playing field only has 9 yards... :) Thanks to Howard Cohen (ex-Mattel employee) for these great stories!

This game wins my vote for most cloned/pirated of the handheld games. :) They even cloned it themselves! Mattel has done a re-release of this game recently (Dec, 2000), check out Classic Football! And now they've released a tiny Football Keychain version of it! (April, 2001).