The Rise of the Video Game
The world first enjoyed the thrill of playing a video game when in 1971, customers at fairgrounds or bars used a coin-operated device that enabled them to play what insiders now say was the first commercially successful video game.
The game named “Computer Space,” designed by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell, who was working for the computer company “Nutting” used a regular black and white television to display the game 74 series TTL chip motherboard to operate the game digital integrated circuits.
The game, although quite widespread for the time, did not reach the masses its designers had hoped for, mainly in part because of the price, a whopping US$120.00, in today’s money and still relatively expensive $1,015.00.
Nonetheless, with the above being said, it did, however, usher in other games which today are still fondly remembered.
Games like the Atari console game of “Pong,” I can still remember first seeing this game set up in our local bar, rested in its cabinet, which also acted as a table you could sit around while drinking.
The actual game, however, once played, became a bit tedious as it consisted of just two sliding paddles on each side of the screen and a relatively fast-moving white dot that players attempted to hit past or her opponent’s rear line. In essence, a game of tennis that costs you 25 cents a round.
No one in those early days could have ever envisioned that this simple game would trigger an industry, which is now worth an annual figure of $135 billion. That’s just for the sale of the actual video games, not the video terminals required to play them on.
OK, we have spent the first portion of this short narrative looking at what researchers agree was the first-ever commercially successful “video Game,” “Computer Space.”
We now know the first commercially successful video game, but who and when invented and designed the first-ever video game?
The birth of the video game, believe it or not, happened way back in 1947. If that comes as a bit of a shock to you, then join the club. As I had absolutely no idea, “Video Games” stretched that far back.
The game designed and produced by Estle Ray Mann and Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr, the latter an American television pioneer later to become a professor of physics at the University of Furman, realized that he could use a “Cathode Ray Tube” the main tube inside an old television which gave you your picture and converts it into an amusement device.
The resulting game, however, when compared to the epic video games we now have today, to put it mildly, was fundamentally basic.
However, for the time being, it may be worth remembering that there were just 44,000 televisions in the United States. Yet, no matter how basic the device was, as mentioned, a significant breakthrough. A breakthrough that would usher in a world where, if we wanted to, escape into a realm of utter fantasy.
The actual game utilized the same principle as used by radar screens seen in military installations.
The user, a potential radar missile operator, would control a small white dot on a black screen using a joystick, thus simulating missiles being fired at various targets. The targets were cut-out drawings attached to the screen by the user, who would typically have a pack of ten cut-outs to make the game more interesting.
From then on, it was just a waiting game, and wait. We did, another twenty-four years to be exact when, as mentioned above, Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell released “Computer Space” in 1971.
However, credit for the actual birth of the video game industry, and the resulting gaming industry we have today, must go to Atari’s Pong; both the arcade version in 1972 and the home version in the fall of 1975 as it caused many other video gaming manufacturers, to clone their version of “Pong.”
I am a very young 70 years of age and can vividly remember some of the classic video games I used to play; however, many would say that they are unrealistic and very dull today.
However, I still enjoy unpacking my old Atari game set and playing games such as “Pong,” “Pac Man,” “Donkey Kong,” “Pitfall,” “Burger Time,” and of course, the original “Mario Bros” to name a few.
Yes, they still all work, and yes, my Grandkids smile every time they see me playing them. My doctor also informs me that by playing them, I am helping what brain I have left from degenerating any further, so, for that Atari, I thank you, as I am sure thousands of others do.
Nevertheless, I have to say that all the world training would have ever prepared me for the “Video Games of today.”
The point in case.
When visiting my daughter, I never miss a chance to pop down to the Grandkids gaming room and marvel at the gaming gear, video games, the sound effects blaring out through digitally enhanced speakers, and wonder what sort of video games will be around in just a few years. Video games which my “Great Grand Daughter “who like me, while sitting on my shoulders, looks at the TV screen in utter amazement.
Yes, I wonder while at the same time thanking all those forward-thinking people who were responsible for the “Rise of the Video Game.”
Well, folks, that is the end of my little walk around the history of video games, and I thank you all for reading. It is most appreciated.
So on behalf of the Vandergraph family and every employee at Bargainbrute.com, together we “Thank you for shopping with us.”
While here, why don’t you pop over to our Video Gaming section, where you will find everything you require to enter into the world of “Video Gaming.”