Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The 40th birthday of video games?

May 15 th 1967 the first television-based video game was played between Ralph Baer and Bill Harrison. 1up.com decided to call this the 40 th birthday of the video game and wrote a multi-paged article on the topic. Of course anybody who has researched the history of video games know already that in February of 1962 SpaceWar was running on a PDP 11. For those of you who don't know, SpaceWar was the game that inspired Nolan Bushnell to form Atari, and Atari was the company that managed to get video games into popular culture. That being said, SpaceWars (and Tennis for Two which was released in 1958) didn't use Televisions for their display, but then again, neither did a lot of the arcade games I played as a kid so I am not sure why there is such a big deal being made by that minor point.

Ralph Baer had the idea of video games on the television back in 1951 when he was working on a television for Loral Electronics. Based on interviews I have seen with him, the idea came from the testing of the television prototypes where blocks were generated on the display. The company wasn't interested in the idea (because they were already behind schedule) so he put the idea away. Years later he remembered the idea and on September 1 st,1966 he filed a patent disclosure document for the idea.

My interest in computers and programming came as a result of seeing video games when I was a little kid, with Asteroids and Space Invaders being the first video games I ever saw. When I finally got a computer, I tried creating games. Back then there were magazines that had games that you could type in. I also found a couple of books that contained text based games and was one of the inspirations for my Ultimate Retro Project a decade or so later.

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