How To Know the History of Video Games

Today we enjoy high tech video games with full color and realistic scenery and sound.  Controlling our video game environment is done with advanced controllers: there are the rumble feature, the wireless controller, and motion sensors.  Video games continue to grow in popularity, year after year.  Where did this multi-billion dollar video game industry get its start?  Let's take a look back to learn the history of video games.

More than three decades ago, Ralph Baer released the Magnavox Odyssey, nicknamed the “Brown Box”. This was the first home video game system.  It ran on batteries and had no sound.  However, most of the older generation may remember Pong as the first video game.

When Atari released Pong in 1975, Sears sold it under its Tele-Games label.  It was a simple game of ping pong played on a television screen.  A white dot represented the ball, a white vertical line down the center of the screen was the net, and two small vertical lines on either side of the screen were paddles.  The console had two knobs that players would twist to move the paddles up and down, hitting the white dot back and forth.  The only sound in this game was a dull beep.

What about A. S. Douglas who created Noughts and Crosses, a tic-tac-toe computer game, back in 1952?  It seems almost inconceivable, but this game was actually created in the '50s!  However, it wasn't widely available for distribution because the programming language it used was only used in one place.  Then came Tennis for Two, a science experiment that some consider the first 2-D tennis game. This game was created by William Higinbotham in 1958.  And in 1962 , Spacewar became popular on college campuses.   As you can tell, learning the history of video games is very interesting.  Nolan Bushnell's Computer Space was the first arcade-style video game that used coins.  For the most part, these games were restricted to college campuses and university computer labs.  However, when Atari 2600, the first multi-game system for households, was released in 1977 video gaming spread fast.  Then, in 1979, four former employees of Atari started a company called Activision and they began creating game software for the Atari 2600.

In 1980 Pac-Man, originally named Puck Man, by Namco, became a huge hit; the coin-operated machines on which Pac-Man was played were placed in bars and were a big success.  Donkey Kong made its debut in 1981, and in 1985 Tetris came on the scene.

Interactive gaming took off fast as the technology improved; in 1989 Sim City was launched, and Street Fighter came out in 1991, followed by Mortal Combat in 1992.

Nintendo 64 launched in 1996 and introduced true 3D graphics, and in 1999 Sega Dreamcast's 56 kbps modem took gaming online.  And as we all know, Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's WII each boast new technology and features that will make future video games even more interesting and fun to play.  


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