Tuesday, 15 November 2011

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

Interesting enough what I believe is that, to know our answers now, we must search the past, that helps us figure out the present.
So the video game history started in an unusual and complicated way, so it’s apparent to avoid confusion with what happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s. 

It states that the real video game history started with Ralph Baer as early as 1951.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, computers were not only exceedingly expensive, but the technology was lacking, because it could not allow integrating them into a video game system. Only mainframes could allow playing a few games. These games qualified as Computer games, not Video games.

In 1947, there were requests for an invention, that became known  as 'Cathode ray tube amusement device' which was the earliest known interactive electronic game,which any person using the knobs and buttons to manipulate a cathode ray tube beam, could simulate firing a 'airplane' target.

In 1949 -1950 Charley Adam, created a 'Bouncing Ball. However, the program was not yet interactive; it was a precursor for games in the future. In 1958, Tennis for Two was a game on an Analog, computer, which simulates a game of tennis or ping pong on an oscilloscope.

Tennis for Two was Exhibited for two seasons before it was dismantled in 1959

This was created by William Higinbotham, that Tennis for Two showed a simplified tennis court from the side, featuring a 'gravity-controlled ball that needed to be played over the net, unlike its successor Pong. Pong has a box shaped controller, that was  equipped with both a knob and a button for hitting the ball.
This is Spacewars! one of the earliest known digital computer games

It  is a two-player game, with each player taking control of a spaceship and attempting to destroy the other. Steve Russell, Martin Graetz and Wayne Witaenem from the fictitious Hingham Institute, conceived of the game in the 1961 which they implement  on 'DEC PDP-1' which is a programmed data processor, and was the first computer in digital equipment corporation. Amazing to think when Russell began finishing his first version, it took him approximately 200 hours of work to create the initial version.

As early as 1951, a young 29 year old TV engineer named Ralph Baer worked at Loral, a TV company. Amazing to see that his chief engineer, Sam Lackoff (haha jackoff) asked him to build the best television set in the world. Designing a TV set was child play for Ralph, however he wanted to add a new concept that his boss did not understand: playing games on the television set. The video game concept was born, but could not been implemented since the boss refused the idea. In 1966 Ralph Baer came back to his 1951 idea of playing games on TV sets and started to build the first video game prototypes.

Ralph Baer is accordingly, credited as the inventor of the video game

In 1966 Ralph Baer, had a co-worker called Bill Harrison that he engaged into the project. They created a simple video game 'Chase'. This was the first to display on a standard television set.

He designed a series of seven prototypes that played several video games. Chase consists of two squares chasing each other. The last prototype built in 1968 (also known as Brown Box) played Ball and Paddle games, Target Shooting games and more. After several demonstration to TV manufactures, Magnavox signed an agreement in 1971 and the first video game system was released in May 1972: Odyssey.

 The history of PONG games and derivates had just started, and would spread all over the globe and die in the early 1980s

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