Mattel Electronics Auto Race is the first in the line of many Mattel Electronics games, and is credited with being the first handheld game that was entirely digital.
The firm pioneered the category of handheld computer games when it released Mattel Auto Race in 1976 and is sometimes overlooked because of the much more successful Mattel Classic Football that was released in 1977. The visuals were represented by red LED lights and the sound consisted of simple beeps. The game itself used about 512 bytes in memory (half a kilobyte, or 1/2048 of a megabyte).
The game was released in two different box styles: The older (original) box was significantly larger than the second (smaller) version. The large version had the game packed in styrofoam blocks, where the smaller version had the game packed in a plastic bubble-wrap bag. Some of them also have an A/C adapter port for powering the game.
Sales of Mattel Auto Race exceeded expectations. Mattel in the 1970s, known mostly for Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, was at first skeptical of products based on electronics, especially at what was considered expensive at the time ($24.99 retail) The success of Auto Race convinced Mattel to proceed with the development of Mattel Football which was often sold out and in short supply and this led to the creation of a new Mattel Electronics Division in 1978, which for a time was extremely profitable.