Monday, 17 October 2011

A history of computer games, part one: 1950s - 1970s

I'm one of those people who thought computer games began with pong way back in the 1970s. So I was shocked to find there was a lot more going on even before that. Most of us were born around the late 1980's or 1990's and were born into a world were PCs (although dated now) were current and easy to come by. The first computers and games seems long ago and we've developed and improved so quickly its surprising how advanced games are now compared to their beginnings.
And their beginnings is what I'm going to try comprehend....

Computers themselves began life as the 'Difference Engine' created by Charles Babbage and its almost impossible to believe the desktops we have today ultimately come from this. Computers and their technology have a history and development line and while this is important (we wouldn't have games without the machines they run on) I think it would be too much to try focus on computers, their history/ development as well as games within the same blog!

I think computer games started when William Higinbotham created the first video game ever in 1958. His game, called "Tennis for Two," was created and played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope.
Spacewar! developed in 1962 was the next computer game to be created and is generally assumed to be the first real computer game. The operating system used was the first to allow multiple users to share the computer simultaneously. This was perfect for playing Spacewar, which was a two-player game involving warring spaceships firing photon torpedoes.
In 1967, Ralph Baer wrote the first video game played on a television set, a game called Chase.
In 1971, Nolan Bushnell together with Ted Dabney, created the first arcade game. It was called Computer Space, based on Steve Russell's earlier game of Spacewar!.

And then 11 years after Spacewar! was introduced the first commercially available video game, Pong was released in 1972. Pong quickly became a success and helped paved the way for the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's game play, and eventually released new types of games. And thus video games and their industry began.

I think computer systems and games have evolved and advanced massively over the recent years and our continued development is only making them better. New hardware is constantly being invented meaning games can develop and advance with them. Looking back at its early begins its hard to believe how far everything has come in a relatively short space of time and how far it has yet to go is an exciting prospect to be part of!

Bring on the future.


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