Games have come along way from the 50's. From the little dot representing a tennis ball being bounced around the screen on an oscilloscope to the protagonist of the next AAA title boasting 10,000's triangles along with 2048 texture maps running around a beautiful environment . But without that little dot on the oscilloscope we wouldn’t have the amazing games we have today.
The first “game” ever made was far from being complex, it was something a tad more basic (it didn’t even have a score for goodness sake!). Enter Tennis for 2. A basic side on view tennis game, played through an oscilloscope, yes, an oscilloscope. The goal of this game was to bounce the tennis ball to the other side of the court over the net, setting the trajectory by an input device. Tennis for 2 was created by an American physicist/nuclear researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory , William A. Higinbotham in 1958 to entertain people as they visited the laboratory.
4 years later in 1962 brought us the first fully interactive video game, Spacewar. Developed by a group of university friends at MIT, those were; Wayne Witanen, Martin Graetz and Steve Russell. In Spacewar two spaceships (creatively named the wedge and the needle, reflecting how each ship is crudely rendered in the game) compete against each other with limited fuel supplies while battling against each other in a missle duel. Spacewar was a massive hit at MIT's annual science open house, infact it became such a popular game they had to develop a scoring system to limit the players time with it.
In 1966, Ralph Baer, a German born inventor and engineer, also known as “The Father of Video Games” work along with Bob Tremblay and Bob Solomon to produce and demonstrate a system that allows spots to be moved around on a tv screen. The following year, 1967, Ralph Baer worked with Bill Harrison to build a multi game system, the world first console you could say, it was dubbed the Home TV Game (….how creatively named). Late 1968 they demonstrated Home TV Game, showing off its ability to play severalgames, like ping-pong, volleyball, handball, hockey and even a few shooting games used with the worlds first light gun, also developed by Ralph Baer.
Along with the accolade “The Father of Video Games” he has also won several awards, such as the National Medal of Technology for inventing the home console for video games and also creating the video game industry.
In 1971 Nolan Bushnell, an American engineer and entrepreneur who later founded Atari saw the commercial potential of video games so he set out to produce an arcade version of MITs popular spacewar. Despite the space aged looking machine it didn’t sell as well as he would like. Despite this setback, a year later he formed Atari which went on to create quite possible the most popular game ever, Pong. But more about that next week.