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Six (6) Awesome Facts about Early Video Game History

By January 6, 2020 No Comments

Video Games, which are core to the entertainment industry today, have been in existence since the 1950s! The development of video games has evolved dramatically, just like the technology itself. We bring six facts that will help us all to remember the origins of the king of present day entertainment industry, from the 1950s to the 1983 event known as “the crash”. Let’s start this journey through videogame history, shall we?

1. Video Games started in the 1950s as Research works for Scientists

Tic-tac-toe

Records have it that in 1952, Professor A. S. Douglas, a British Professor created OXO (tic-tac-toe) as a part of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Cambridge. MIT students and Professors played 3D tic-tac-toe and the Moon landing in 1960 on computers such as IBM 1560. Those games look incredibly primitive nowadays, but were an unbelievable achievement in cutting edge tech back in their time.

2. Spacewar- The First Video Game to be installed on multiple Computers

Spacewar was the first video game that could be played on multiple computer installations. The game was created in 1962 by Steve Russell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was a space combat computer game for the Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1) which was a computer mostly found at universities.

We’d like to note at this point that the educational system was the starting point for video gaming as we know it. It’ll only be interesting for universities around the world to usher the world into the next generation of video gaming which we have earlier made known – Blockchain-Based Gaming. A collaboration with a cutting-edge platform like Wunbit would help hasten up the process. 

3. Ralph Baer- the pioneer of Video Games 

Game box or Brown box

Ralph Baer is widely acknowledged for his pioneering work in electronics and television engineering and known to many as the father of video games. He designed and developed a ‘game box’ or the ‘brown box’ that would allow people to play games on their television, in other words, a video game console. He later licensed the device to Magnavox, which sold the device to consumers as the first video game home console- the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. Baer’s work was recognized by President George W. Bush in 2006 when he awarded him with the National Medal of Technology.

4. Pong- The First Arcade Video Game ported to a Gaming Console

Pong

One of Odyssey’s 28 games became the inspiration for Atari’s Pong, which was released in the arcades in 1972 (only one year later after the first arcade video game, Computer Space) and rapidly became a hit, yet it wasn’t until 1975 that a home version of Pong was released for a console named, uh…Pong. Yes, the only thing people could play at home as videogames was the original Pong and clone variants of the game on an array of Pong machines and consoles that spread like wildfire, each with different tweaks and gameplay options, but basically the same game! 

5. 1977- Joysticks and Cartridges

Atari VCS

It wasn’t until 1977 that Atari released the Video Computer System or Atari VCS, later rebranded as Atari 2600, which came with joysticks and interchangeable cartridges that allowed users to play coloured video games, a complete breakthrough and one of the most successful video game consoles of all time. The console was so popular, that its lifespan even reached the mid 80 ́s, when both the much technologically advanced NES and the outdated Atari 2600 were sold at the same retail price of $200, as crazy as it sounds.

6. The 1983 Crash (and no, there was no Bandicoot)

The video game market faced a huge shrinkage in 1983 when too many low quality, overhyped games flooded the market. Several companies that produced North American consoles and games ceased their operations, from late 1983 to early 1984. Then, Japanese companies such as Nintendo and Sega rose from those ashes and claimed the leadership of the market.

Other notable facts were the creation of the iconic game Space Invaders in 1978 which was integrated into Atari VCS (Video Computer System) in 1980 and led to a huge increase in Atari 2600 sales as the sales shot up to 2 million units. Pac-Man, a maze arcade game, was developed and released by Namco in 1980. 

For further reading go to:

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_games
  2. https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-video-games
  3. https://techcrunch.com/2015/10/31/the-history-of-gaming-an-evolving-community/
  4. https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2014/12/08/369405270/inventor-ralph-baer-the-father-of-video-games-dies-at-92
  5. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man 

Wunbit is coming in the next article with more interesting occurrences in the history of video games. Watch out for our next trip through space, time and videogames!

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