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History of the video game

Video games probably began in 1958 when Tennis for Two, a precursor to Pong, was developed to entertain visitors to Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In 1961, a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell[?], programmed a game called Spacewar on the then brand new DEC PDP-1. The game pitted two human players against each other, each controlling a space ship capable of firing missiles. A black hole in the centre created a large gravitational field and another source of hazard. This game was soon distributed with new DEC computers and traded throughout primitve cyberspace. It was the first widely available and influential game.

The first video game for the home market was the Magnavox Odyssey. They were connected to a home TV set. Built using mainly analogue electronics, it was not a large success. The graphics were simple, and different games (loaded with different cartridges) required different plastic overlays to be stuck to the user's TV screen. Only two TV sizes were supported. The Odyssey was successful enough to support an add-on peripheral, a "light gun". This detected light from the TV screen, however pointing the gun at a nearby light bulb also registered as a "hit".

The first console video game with widespread success was Pong, developed in 1972 by Atari. The game is loosely based around tennis: Two players each control a "bat" which has the freedom to move up and down at their end of the "court". A ball is "served" from the centre of the court and as the ball moves towards their side of the court each player must maneuver their bat to "hit" the ball back to their opponent. It soon had many imitators and the coin operated video game craze began.

Colossal Cave (also known as Adventure) was one of the first adventure games.

home computing[?] (the 8-bit era)
the great video game decline[?]
Nintendo Game and Watch[?]
Super Mario Brothers
Game Boy
Sony PlayStation
Tomb Raider
PlayStation 2

Everything listed on this page has to do with the history of consoles, but we're also using the word video game to apply to those played on computers. Request that someone add something about those!

While the fruit of development in early video games appeared mainly (for the consumer) in video arcades and home consoles, the rapidly evolving home computers of the early 1970s and 80s allowed their owners to program extremely simple games. Soon many of these games (often clones of popular arcade games) were being distributed through a variety of channels, included the physical mailing and selling of floppy disks and tapes, and the inclusion of the game's source code in magazines and newsletters, which allowed users to type in the code for themselves.

Soon a small cottage industry was formed, with amateur coders selling disks in plastic bags sent through the mail.

See also : Video game

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