Geek Trivia: What Was The First Video Game?

Answer: Tennis for two

Most people, when pressed by the name of the first video game, usually throw away the name of the oldest arcade game they have ever played (or one that an older friend or relative spoke wistfully about). Pong, Pac Man and Asteroids are all early games that come to mind, all relics from the 1970s and 1980s. To find the first video game, however, you have to dig deeper, all the way back to the 1950s.

In 1958, William Higinbothan, an American physicist employed by the Brookhaven National Laboratory, created Tennis for Two to entertain and entertain visitors. He wanted the simple game to be used to capture public interest and spark interest in the more scientific efforts undertaken at Brookhaven.

Higinbothan was inspired to create the game by reading the manual for a small analog computer; the manual included instructions on how to use it to generate curves on an oscilloscope screen simulating missile trajectories and bouncing balls. Bouncing balls were very much like the game of tennis, people loved tennis and anything that could combine research and equipment at Brookhaven with something that the public appreciated and understood seemed to be a natural choice for a public display. Higinbothan set to work to assemble a series of analog computers and transistor circuits to supply images to the oscilloscope. The game was simple, there was a net, a ball that bounced off the net and a large aluminum controller that allowed visitors to hit the ball on the net. Tennis for Two was a huge success – the whole experience was completely new for visitors to Brookhaven and people queued up in the hundreds to play the game.

Like all the first, the status of Tennis for Two’s first video game has been the subject of much debate over the years. As early as the 1940s, there was a device called a CRT amusement device, patented by Thomas T. Goldsmith. Although it was actually a game and looked vaguely like the first video games, it required physical overlays to be placed on the screen and did not render its own graphics – not the first video game but certainly some sort of prototypical ancestor. Seven years before Tennis for Two, the Nimrod computer was built for the British Science Fair. The Nimrod computer was built not as a game, but as a demonstration of computing power – he simply used the secular logic game Nim to show off – perhaps one of the first examples of a kit demo, but certainly not the first video game as it didn’t even have an on-screen display. The first game of any kind to use a digital graphic display appeared a year later in 1952. Nicknamed Noughts and Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe as the Americans call the game), it was again designed for demonstration / research and should not be played simply as a game. The creator of Noughts and Crosses AS Douglas designed the game to study human-computer interactions in a research setting.

Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, there were a series of lawsuits which established that a “video game” was a device that displayed a game through the manipulation of video display signals from basic equipment frame such as a TV or computer. monitor. By this definition, almost everything that was before 1970 would not be considered a video game. However, Tennis for Two was a computer game, designed just for entertainment, which included a control interface designed specifically for the game, and it rendered its own graphics. It was a rudimentary and pleasant Pong almost a quarter of a century before Pong was a household name.

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