Not just UFO's and Hemp...

OK so its 1952 your studding at Cambridge and you need something to write your PhD on. With it being the 50's, you and every everyone else is sure that in ten years time you'll all be jetting round in flying cars and taking holidays to the moon. You decide to do you PhD on something called Human-Computer interaction and use a EDSAC vacuum-tube computer to programme the first graphical computer game - a version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Mr A.S. Douglas if only you knew what you had started, if only you knew.

By 1958 a Mr William Higinbotham had created 'tennis for two'! The game was displayed on an oscilloscope, featuring a basic, 2D tennis court. It did however have to be played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope, not exactly 'mass market'. Not yet.

So its now the 60's and it appears not everyone is sitting in fields listening to music, doing drugs and fornicating. Well at least Steve Russell isn't, nope he's doing something far more 'entertaining'.....

In 1962 he created the excitingly titled SpaceWar! He used a rather large MTI PDP-1 mainframe computer to design his game. A game that featured simplistic controls and a more modern set of gaming goals. Many would later credit it as the first true computer game, so congratulations Steve.

It would take until 1967 for games to make the leap away from colossal main frames and onto television sets. A military electrician of all people, called Ralph Baer, created the first home based entertainment game called “Chase”. He later went on to develop the first games console call the Odyssey. 

As the 60's ended and the 70's began a few familiar names arrived on the video game scene. 1972 saw the creation of Atari Computers, which went on to release arcade classics, Pong and Space Invaders. This marked the beginning of the mass appeal of games, games that were designed from the outset to be fun. I'd like to speculate this shift of focus towards 'fun' might in some small part, be due to Nolan Bushnell's (co founder of Atari) previous work in the entertainment industry as well as his high-school job in an amusement park.

There we are, two decades of experimentation, development, success and failure condensed in (roughly) 300 words. Must of it should be fairly accurate, although probably not all that interesting.

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