The first home video game console wasn't the Atari Pong. A reader of The Universal Machine pointed out the Magnavox Odyssey to me, which was released in August 1972 a full three years before Atari. In fact Pong was based on a ping-pong game that shipped with the Odyssey. Sales of the Odyssey were poor caused by bad marketing and many customers mistaken belief that the console would only work with Magnavox television sets. When Atari subsequently released Pong Magnovox successfully sued them (and many other imitators) for patent infringement. So we now know what the first video game console was but what was the first video game? This is a complex issue that Wikipedia devotes a whole entry to.
from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/