As an avid retro player, I have for a long time been particularly interested in the history of video games. To be more specific is a topic I love for "What was the first video game ever made?" ... So I started an exhaustive investigation into this topic (and made this article the first in a series of articles that will cover in detail all video history).
The question was: Which was the first video game ever made?
The answer: Well, like many things in life, there is no simple answer to that question. It depends on your own definition of the term "video games". For example: When you talk about "the first video game", do you mean the first video game that was commercially made, or the first console game, or maybe the first digitally programmed game? Because of this, I made a list of 4-5 video games that were somehow beginners to the video game industry. You will notice that the first video games were not created with the idea of getting any profit from them (during the decades there was no Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Sega, Atari or any other video game company nearby). In fact, the only idea of a "video game" or electronic device was made just to "play games and have fun" over the imagination of over 99% of the population these days. But thanks to this small group of geniuses who took the first steps into the video game revolution, we can enjoy many hours of fun and entertainment today (if we are creating millions of jobs over the last four or five decades). Without further ado, I present here the "first video game nominees":
1940s: Cathode Ray Tube entertainment apparatus
This is considered (with official documentation) as the first electronic gaming device ever made. It was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The game was collected in the 1940s and submitted for a US patent in January 1947. The patent was granted in December 1948, which also makes it the first electronic gaming device to ever receive a patent (US Patent 2,455,992). As described in the patent, it was an analog circuit device with a set of knobs used to move a dot that appeared in the cathode ray tube display. This game was inspired by how missiles appeared in the ranks of World War II, and the purpose of the game was simply to control a "missile" to hit a target. In the 1940s, it was extremely difficult (not to say impossible) to display graphics on a Cathode Ray Tube screen. Because of this, only the actual "missile" appeared on the display. The target and other graphics were displayed on screen overlays that were manually placed on the screen. It has been said by many that Atari's famous video game "Missile Command" was created after this gaming device.
NIMROD was the name of a digital computer from the 50's. The creators of this computer were engineers for a British-based company under the name of Ferranti, with the idea of displaying the device at the 1951 festival in the UK (and later it was also shown in Berlin).
NIM is a numerical strategy game with two players, believed to come from ancient China. The rules for NIM are simple: There are a certain number of groups (or "heaps"), and each group contains a certain number of objects (a common starting set of NIM is 3 piles containing 3, 4 and 5 objects, respectively). Each player turns to remove items from the pile, but all removed items must be from a single pile and at least one item is removed. The player who takes the last item from the last pile loses, but there is a variation of the game where the player to take the last item from the last pile wins.
NIMROD used a light panel that was screened and designed and made with the unique purpose of playing the NIM game, making it the first digital computer unit created specifically to play a game (however, the main idea was to show and illustrate how a digital computer works, rather than having fun and having fun with it). Because it does not have "raster video equipment" as a screen (a TV set, monitor, etc.), many are not considered a real "video game" (an electronic game, yes ... a video game, No ...). But once again, it really depends on your point of view when talking about a "video game".
1952: OXO ("Noughts and Crosses")
This was a digital version of "Tic-Tac-Toe", created for an EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) computer. It was designed by Alexander S. Douglas of the University of Cambridge, and once again it was not made for entertainment, it was part of his doctoral dissertation on "Interactions between human and computer".
The rules of the game are those for a regular Tic-Tac-Toe game, player against computer (no two-player option was available). The input method was a rotating dial (like those in old phones). The output was displayed in a 35x16 pixel cathode ray tube display. This game was never particularly popular because the EDSAC computer was only available at the University of Cambridge, so there was no way to install and play it anywhere else (until many years later when an EDSAC emulator was created available, and at that time many other excellent video games where available ...).
1958: Tennis for two
"Tennis for two" was created by William Higinbotham, a physicist who works at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This game was made as an entertainment mode, so laboratory visitors had something fun to do during their wait for "visitors' day" (finally! ... a video game created "just for fun" ...). The game was quite well designed for its era: the ball behavior was modified by several factors such as gravity, wind speed, position and contact angle, etc .; you had to avoid the net like real tennis and many other things. The video game hardware included two "joysticks" (two controllers with one rotary button and one pushbutton each) connected to an analog console and an oscilloscope as a screen.
"Tennis for two" is considered by many to be the first video game ever created. But once again, many others differ from the idea that "it was a computer game, not a video game" or "the output screen was an oscilloscope, not a" raster "video display ... so it does not qualify as a video game ". But well ... you can't please everyone ...
It is also rumored that "Tennis for two" was the inspiration for Atari & # 39; s mega-hit "Pong", but this rumor has always been strongly rejected ... for obvious reasons.
"Spacewar!" Video games were created by Stephen Russell with the help of J. Martin Graetz, Peter Samson, Alan Kotok, Wayne Witanen and Dan Edwards from MIT. In the 1960s, MIT was "the right choice" if you wanted to do computer research and development. So half a dozen of innovative guys utilizing a brand new computer were ordered and expected to arrive on campus very soon (a DEC PDP-1) and started thinking about what kind of hardware testing program would be made. When they learned that a "Precision CRT Display" was to be installed in the system, they immediately decided that "some kind of visual / interactive game" would be the demonstration software chosen for PDP-1. And after some discussion, it was soon decided to become a space fighting game or something similar. After this decision, all other ideas came out fairly quickly: such as rules of the game, concept design, programming ideas and so on.
So after about 200 man / hours of work, the first version of the game was finally ready to be tested. The game consisted of two spaceships (referred to as players "pencil" and "wedge") that shoot missiles at each other with a star in the middle of the screen (which "pulls" both spaceships because of its gravitational force). A set of control switches was used to control each spaceship (for rotation, speed, missiles and "hyperspace"). Each spaceship has a limited amount of fuel and weapons, and the hyperspace option was like a "panic button", if there is no other way out (it can either "save you or break you").
The computer game became an instant success between MIT students and programmers, and soon they began to make their own changes to the game program (like real star charts for background, star / no star options, background deactivation options, angle functions options). The game code was transferred to many other computer platforms (because the game required a video display, a difficult to find alternative to the 1960s system, it was most often ported to newer / cheaper DEC systems such as PDP-10 and PDP-11).
Spacewar! many are not only considered the first "real" video game (since this game has a video display), but it has also proven to be the true precursor to the original arcade game, as well as being the inspiration for many other video games, consoles and even with video game companies (can you say "Atari"? ...). But that's another story, arcade games as well as console video games have been written on another page in video game history (so stay tuned for future articles on these topics).
So here they are, the "first video games" nominees. Which do you think is the first video game ever made? ... If you ask me, I think all these games were revolutionary for its era, and should be credited as a whole as a beginner of the video game revolution. Instead of looking for what was the first video game, what really matters is that they were created, period. As the creator of "Spacewar!" Said Stephen Rusell once: "If I hadn't, someone would have done something as exciting or even better in the next six months. I just happened to get there first."