In the mid-1970s Mattel executives and designers conceived the idea of converting a digital calculator into a handheld electronic game. The company approached the microelectronics division of Rockwell International, where circuit designer Mark Lesser designed the hardware chip and programmed the first all-electronic handheld game, Auto Race. Following the success of Auto Race, Lesser programmed and co-designed several more Mattel handheld games, including Football, Missile Attack, Baseball, Battlestar Galactica (1978), Brain Baffler (1979), and Horoscope Computer (1979).
Lesser went on to program and design console games with companies such as Parker Brothers and Microsmiths, including the unreleased titles The Lord of the Rings and Drac's Night Out. Most notably, he programmed several EA Sports games for the Sega Genesis, including the NHL and John Madden Football series.