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Video Game Pioneer Jerry Lawson Passes Away

Video Game Pioneer Jerry Lawson Passes Away (photo)

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In the mid-1970s, the Homebrew Computer Club was just an irregular gathering of tinkerers, hobbyists and enthusiasts who met to talk shop and swap tips about how to build and work with computing hardware. These gatherings gave birth to the personal computer and two of Apple’s co-founders–Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak–were members in good standing. Jobs and Wozniak sparked a home computing revolution with the Apple II but another member created an altogether different sort of seismic shift in the electronics world.

Jerry Lawson’s name didn’t wind up becoming as renowned as Jobs or Wozniak’s but his accomplishments helped pave the way for video games to become a cultural force at home and in arcades. Lawson worked at Fairchild, where he led the team that created the first cartridge-based video game console. The Fairchild Channel F preceded the more famous Atari 2600, proving the viability of the nascent technology. Lawson also created “Demolition Derby,” an early coin-operated stand-up arcade machine, in his garage and later installed it into a pizzeria shortly after the debut of “Pong” turned the country on to the new form of entertainment.

Video games make billions of dollars now but, in the industry’s earliest days, it took the nerve and ingenuity of a brave few to craft the machines and software by hand. Lawson’s pioneering profile wasn’t just as an engineer but also as a Black man in a field where he had no predecessors to provide entry. Things may have moved on to discs and downloads now but none of the medium we currently enjoy would be possible. Lawson was honored just this year by the Minority Special Interest Group of the International Game Developers Association for his accomplishments. He was 70 years old.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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