Wednesday, October 20, 2010

History of video games 1950-1970

Everything in the world has its history, not all of it is known, but one subject’s development in time is quite interesting: the history of games. It may sound weird, but the first computer games were nothing more than tic-tac-toe, and pong, a ball of light bouncing from one side of the screen to the other, something like tennis but looked from the top. In 1952 Alexander S. Douglas made the first computer game to use a digital graphical display also known as Noughts and Crosses*. After that in 1958, William Higginbotham made an interactive computer game named Tennis for Two**. Games have been and still are developing with great speed since their start. If you compare games in the past with ones from today, the development of technology is mind blowing.

The invention of the first computer game led to the birth of more that would follow, and soon even better and more advanced games. The main ones were Noughts and Crosses, Tennis for two, Spacewar! and Chase in the 20 year period from 1950 to 1970.

A genius and possibly even eccentric person had the idea to tinker around with computers the size of buildings and worth millions of dollars to make something for entertainment. And after a while the first computer games were born. At first they were nothing special, as nothing is in the beginning, but with time they progressed with astounding speed. I’m not sure who was the first person that had the idea to use computers for games, I never will but he was one of those people who was thinking outside the box. One of them was Alexander S. Douglas who, in 1952, made the first computer game.* The first steps in the game area were developed on equipment used by the military. In 1961, a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell, developed a game titled Spacewar! on the DEC PDP-1, a brand new computer at the time.** The game placed two players against each other, each controlling a space craft which could fire missiles, while a star in the center of the screen was capable of destroying both ships if the players weren’t paying enough attention. Spacewar! was created with the idea to be the first influential computer game.

1970 was the golden age of games. In September 1971, the Galaxy game was the first coin-operated video game. Only one was built. In the same year, many coin-operated Spacewar! arcade machines were manufactured, but the game had a new name – Computer space.** However, Pong was the first arcade video game with widespread success. The arcade game industry entered its Golden Age around 1978 with the birth of Space ivaders. That inspired a lot of people to get into the video game market. In 1979, Atari released the well known Asteroids, in which you had to task to survive as long as you can and destroy all the asteroids in your way.

Technology never slept and kept progressing faster and faster. Soon there was going to be something new on the market – color. Color arcade games became popular in 1979 and 1980 with games like Pac-man, a game which many people still play. Games like that, which are more referred to as retro games, are true classics.



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