About 25 years before "Pong," Thomas Goldsmith and Estle Mann of New Jersey filed a patent for a "cathode-ray tube amusement device." The invention allowed a player to direct a beam on the screen toward a target, such as an airplane. The target, however, was low-tech, consisting of a picture placed on the front of the cathode-ray tube.
Still, the inventors had high aspirations. "The game can be made more spectacular," according to the patent filing, by showing a "visible explosion" when the target is hit.