History of Computer Games
- ArticlesandContent.com (CIRCA 2005)
- Oct 8, 2021 (written 2005)
Today computer games are an important part of the entire computing experience. We may forget that computer game history goes back over a half of a century.
The first computer game was developed by Steve Russell at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the year 1962. The game was called “Spacewar.” The graphics in the game were of a mediocre variety compared to the state of the art graphics and animation we see today in the games. The game was to be played by two players who were required to control a spaceship revolving around a planet. The players were to shoot each other and move ahead. Multi-player games came into existence in the year 1977. The game called Doom was quite popular with several people connected to different PCs playing the game.
It Begins with Personal Computers
By the turn of the mid-1970s, there were computer manufacturers like Scelbi, Altair, IBM5100, TRS-80, Commodore Pet and Apple who were selling computers for households. They were, however on the expensive side and only affluent people could afford them. In the year 1978, there was a major break-through in the PC world when the VisiCalc Spreadsheet program was released. It was one of the most successful programs in computer history.
The popular and the first word processing program called the WordStar, was released in the year 1979. This made life quite easy for the average home-user. The IBM brand of computers began to revolutionize the home segment by selling affordable and compact sized computers. The year 1981 witnessed the hugely popular Microsoft enter the computing scene with the MS-DOS operating system. The mid-80s witnessed computer manufacturers trying to gently remove the term “Home computers “ to “Personal Computers or PCs” Today the term PC is associated with an IBM PC compatible computer. Due to this assocation, manufacturers of personal computers which are not IBM, try to refrain from using the term PCs for their prodcuts. Generally people use the term PC to describe personal computers that use the Microsoft Windows as operating systems.
Early Video Game Successes
The first video game was called “Tennis for Two.” It was created by an inventor named John W. Higginbotham in the year 1958. The game consisted of a horizontal line across the screen with a short vertical line to illustrate the net. The first interactive video game called Spacewar was also the first game that could be connected to a television. The early 1970s witnessed the first video arcade game named “Computer Space”. The year 1975 saw a small but growing company called Atari release a game known as “Pong”. Atari then backed their achievement by releasing two games called "Asteroids" and "Lunar Lander" that were the first copyrighted and registered video game products.
Gaming Consoles are a Hit
The first commercial video game console was unveiled in the year 1972. The Odyssey brand of video game consoles was released by Magnavox. It was the brainchild of the designer Ralph Baer. Baer acquired the legal rights to the console after his employer Sanders Associates rejected the machine. The Odyssey had the functionality to operate twelve games. The year 1976 saw Fairchild Corporation releasing the first programmable home game console. It was called the Fairchild Video Entertainment System. The console was later renamed as Channel F.
Gaming Becomes an Industry
The history of video games is not just about the intellect of people but also about the companies. Atari was an American company and had a Japanese name. Sega was actually a Japanese company which was floated by an American. So much for irony! Magnavox the company that started the video game console is owned by the century old popular Philips Company. Nintendo is another age old company which popularized video games. Consider this, Sony which specialized in all kinds of electronic devices soon found itself leading in a world class video console as times passed by.
The first PC game was created by A.S. Douglas, a PhD degree holder. It was the first graphical computer game on the lines of Tic-Tac-Toe, in the year 1952. The game was programmed on the EDSAC vacuum-tube computer which had a cathode ray tube display. Ten years later, Steve Russell came up with Space War, the first game made for computers. He employed the MIT PDP-1 mainframe computer for creating and designing his game. Nolan Bushnell came up with a game called Computer Space which was an improvised version of the original Spacewar. In the midst of the modern computer games that we have today, we are now trying to relive the vintage computer games which flagged off the trend we have today. Games like Space Invaders, Pong, Frogger, Centipede, and Asteroids64 have again hit the stores with their polished jazzed-up look and extra features. No wonder they are getting a steady flow of demand.
The entertainment software industry and the world of computer and video games have undergone a lot of improvisations and changes. You can now download games online to your mobile phone and play your favorite games even on your wrist watch. The PlayStation, Sega, EA sports and the Game Cube are the biggest giants in the game of computer gaming with rich graphics, true to life picture and oh-so real sounds. In fact the demand has been fuelled by technology to such an extent that you can expect to have different versions of one game before you are even prepared for it. If your imagination is unlimited, so is the world of computer gaming!