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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Anatomy of the First Video Game, Born 1958 137

Posted by timothy
from the go-ahead-and-present-your-counter-theories dept.
afabbro writes "Fifty years ago, before 'Pong' and 'Space Invaders,' a nuclear physicist created 'Tennis for Two,' a 2-D tennis game that some say was the first video game ever. Built in 1958, it was 'gynormous.' 'In addition to the oscilloscope screen and the controller, the guts of the original game were contained in an analog computer, which is "about as big as a microwave oven."' 'We have to load it into the back of a station wagon to move it. It's not a Game Boy that you put in your pocket.'"
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Anatomy of the First Video Game, Born 1958

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  • by Dzimas (547818) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @07:51PM (#25490929)
    I've seen this story bouncing around the media all week. It's wrong. The first video game was Sandy Douglas' Noughts and Crosses, which took advantage of a 35×16 pixel CRT connected to the EDSAC mainframe at the University of Cambridge in 1952. Unlike Tennis For Two, the computer was digital and you played against the computer - a far more sophisticated effort, actually.
  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:03PM (#25491067) Homepage Journal
    Sorry jumped the gun there is video in the article, but the article I linked to has
    Spacewar! - mistakenly said to be the first video game ever.
    Magnavox - first ever commercially available home videogame
    Nolan Bushnell's - Atari
    All with more detail than the main article, along with video.
  • Games as inspiration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy (189467) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:41PM (#25492559) Homepage

    I remember the first computer I ever saw, on display in a mall, circa 1975-76. Some homebrew thing, probably about as beefy as a VIC-20. It was playing the old "guess the card" game: think of a card? Is it red? Is it a spade? Is it higher than 8? And so forth, guessing your card fairly quickly (basic binary search).

    At 9 years old, I thought that was pretty cool. My dad bought me a few computer mags of the day (Creative Computing and the like), and I got the gist of basic. I remember writing out my first "program" in a Hilroy scribbler, trying to clone what that computer did. Basically 52 or so IF/ELSE statements for every case. Brute force, but hey, I was 9. When I learned that I could use variables to reduce it to a few lines of code, I was hooked; there was no going back.

    Got my first computer, an Exidy Sorcerer (Z-80, 1Mhz or so), and had a great time learning the ins and out, writing and selling a few games, pimping it out, and pushing it to the limits. Even got a job (at 11) working on an APL Interpreter for the Z-80. (I was basically paid in hardware :).

    On through the PC generation, university, 286, 386, a career in programming, emergence of the Internet, founding a .COM (worth $100M on paper at one time, whoo hoo, damn paper :), and two more subsequent companies.

    But it all really started seeing that 8080 play a simple game of "guess the card." If it weren't for seeing that, and getting inspired, who knows where the career might have led.

    I'm not sure if today's games could inspire kids in the simple way that old game did for me. The skills and techniques involved in a modern rendered game are so far beyond the grasp of the average kid, the inspiration might be lost, requiring too great a leap to "get it."

  • by Novus (182265) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:10AM (#25494995) Homepage
    Figuring out what the first video game [wikipedia.org] or first computer game is quickly becomes a matter of definitions. If you allow games that could be played without a computer, e.g. Noughts and Crosses, OXO on the EDSAC in 1952 appears to be the first computer game. U.S. patent #2455992 [pong-story.com] from 1947 describes an early electronic game (arguably a precursor to Missile Command) implemented using technology similar to Tennis for Two.

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