Computers Video Games

Spacewar!

At the 1962 Open House held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a student programming project is unveiled on the school’s new DEC PCP-1 computer. In an attempt to demonstrate the machine’s real-time processing power in a context that can be understood by the general public, Steve Russell and his cohorts allow visitors to play …

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Odyssey Video Games

The ‘480 Patent

Ralph Baer files the first patent for his Television Gaming & Training Apparatus, United States patent #3,728,480. The patent is assigned to Baer’s employer, government contractor Sanders Associates, and is the first patent filed for the design of a video game. Though Baer will eventually build, and sell the design for, the first home video …

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Odyssey Video Games

The Brown Box

At Sanders Associates, Ralph Baer completes the sixth iteration of his recently-patented Television Gaming & Training Apparatus, now covered in brown woodgrain and called “The Brown Box.” Utilizing logic circuits and spot generators rather than a computer chip, the Brown Box is capable of playing video ping pong and other simple games. This is the …

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Video Games

Computer Space

Boasting a curved, futuristic fiberglass cabinet that truly looks like an alien art object, Nutting Associates’ arcade video game Computer Space hits an amusement market dominated by pinball machines and jukeboxes. Devised by Nolan Bushnell, Computer Space is a coin-operated homage to the mainframe game Spacewar, complete with complicated controls, and fails to sell well. …

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Video Games

Atari launched

In Santa Clara, California, Atari is formed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. The company is initially part of Bushnell’s desire to continue competing in the coin-operated game market, where he believes video games can take part of the market share from pinball, but consumer products are not far from Bushnell’s mind either: two weeks …

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Video Games

Pong

Atari releases its first product, the arcade game Pong. A more refined version of the basic video ping pong game introduced by the Magnavox Odyssey, it’s simpler than Nolan Bushnell’s earlier attempt to put video games in public spaces (the complicated Computer Space), and is an engineering trial-by-fire for its designer, engineer Al Alcorn. The …

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Video Games

Space Race

Atari releases its second arcade game: the very first video racing game, Space Race. Devised to fulfill a contractual game development obligation to rival manufacturer Bally Midway, the game is released by Midway under the title Asteroid, though Atari releases its own “clone” (of its own game) under the title Space Race on this date. …

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Video Games

Gotcha!

Atari releases its fourth arcade game: the very first video maze game, Gotcha!. The two-player game is essentially a game of tag played in a slowly-shifting maze, with the controllers inexplicably covered with dome-shaped pink rubber covers, leading Gotcha! to be dubbed “the boob game”. More about Gotcha! in Phosphor Dot Fossils

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Video Games

Tank

“Kee Games” (a shell company created by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) introduces a new arcade game, a video war between two artillery commanders called Tank. The first video game to require each player to man two joysticks, designed to mimic real tank controls, Tank is later immortalized in the first pack-in launch title for the …

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Computers Video Games

Games with cartridges

Alpex Corporation, an American computer company, files “the ‘555 Patent” for a “television display control apparatus” capable of loading software from ROM chips embedded in swappable cartridges and other media. This patent effectively shifts the infant video game industry from a hardware-based model to a software-based model, and is licensed by Fairchild Semiconductor for the …

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Video Games

Breakout breaks out

Atari introduces a new arcade game, Breakout, which takes the play mechanics of Pong, turns them on one side, and turns the game into a single-player endurance trial. Assigned to junior Atari employee Steve Jobs, Breakout is actually completed by Jobs’ friend Steve Wozniak, though the circuitry for the game is redesigned when Atari’s engineers …

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Video Games

Coleco Telstar

Coleco, a toy company best known for its air hockey tables, releases its first video game console, the Coleco Telstar. A self-contained unit capable of playing three variants of video tennis, Telstar retails for roughly half the price of Atari’s Pong console, and Coleco sells over a million units of Telstar in various guises and …

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Video Games

Night Driver

Atari introduces its first-person driving game Night Driver, the first video game to attempt to simulate depth in its display. Introduced in black & white, Night Driver will later gain even more popularity in color on Atari’s first programmable home video game system. More about Night Driver in Phosphor Dot Fossils

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Video Games

Starship 1

One of the very first first-person space games is introduced to arcades by Atari. Despite its flickery graphics, Starship 1 gives would-be space heroes the chance to take aim at the bad guys; perhaps showing the enduring power of a certain science fiction series, Starship 1’s friendly ships look suspiciously like the U.S.S. Enterprise, while …

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Video Games

RCA Studio II

Launched just prior to Christmas 1976 (so late, in fact, that most consumers aren’t aware of its existence until early ’77), RCA takes its only step into the video game world with the underpowered Studio II console. With its black-and-white graphics and all-in-one design forcing both players to sit directly in front of the console, …

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Video Games

Fairchild Channel F

Fairchild rebrands its pioneering Video Entertainment System console as the much more memorable Fairchild Channel F. This is the name by which the console will be most commonly known in the future, and a name which it retains even after Fairchild sells its inventory and interest in Channel F to electronic toolmaker Zircon in 1979. …

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Video Games

No love for Studio II

Just before Valentine’s Day, RCA kills its Studio II home video game console, whose blocky black & white graphics and library of “edutainment” cartridges have proven to be no competition for the more game-oriented, full-color consoles from Fairchild and Atari over the previous two Christmas shopping seasons. 120 employees directly involved with developing for or …

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