Sunday, July 17, 2011

The world’s first video game

The world’s first video game, OXO, was invented in 1952. As the title suggests, it was simple tic-tac-toe, and you could only play it on the EDSAC computer at the University of Cambridge. (Watch it in action here.) The fun didn’t really get started until the late 1960′s, when Robert Baer, Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch developed a ping pong game you could play on your television. The video below shows Baer and Harrison playing the game on the “brown box” — the prototype for the computer consoles that would make the 70s and 80s such wonderful, sedentary decades to be a child.

While other arcade video games such as Computer Space came before it, Pong was one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. The aim is to defeat the opponent in a simulated table tennis game by earning a higher score. The game was originally manufactured by Atari Incorporated (Atari), who released it in 1972. Allan Alcorn created Pong as a training exercise assigned to him by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell based the idea on an electronic ping-pong game included in the Magnavox Odyssey, which later resulted in a lawsuit against Atari. Surprised by the quality of Alcorn's work, Atari decided to manufacture the game.

Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game, which led to the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's gameplay, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari encouraged its staff to produce more innovative games. The company released several sequels that built upon the original's gameplay by adding new features.

During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari released a home version of Pong exclusively through Sears retail stores. It was also a commercial success and led to numerous copies. The game has been remade on numerous home and portable platforms following its release. Pong has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows and video games, and has been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions.

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