Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Brief History of Video Games...PART ONE. No, PART...THE FIRST.

     Ok, let me start with a brief history of video games. Wayyyy before Pong, the first commercially available video game, was ‘Tennis for Two’; created by William Higginbotham in 1958, ‘Tennis for Two’ was made from an analogue computer linked up to an oscilloscope (pretty much the closest thing to a proper screen at the time). It had two controllers (it’s a good £20 for a poxy third-party controller these days. These bad boys were wireless, too) which had one button to hit the ball and a dial to alter the angle and trajectory in which they hit the ball. In addition, the view of the ‘tennis court’ was from a horizontal viewpoint, rather than the birds-eye view we get from the players side of the pitch in modern tennis games. The ball even had bounce physics, programmed to change direction appropriately when it hit the floor or the net. Think about it; the first physics engine was invented 16 years before video games became acknowledged at all.
     A little later in ’61, Spacewar! was invented by Steve Russell, Martin Graetz, and Wayne Witaenem, students of the MIT. They had received a DEC PDP-1 computer, and conceived the idea while playing around to see what the console could, and found that it had some amazing graphical capabilities. In Steve Russell’s own words, “We decided that probably you could make a two-dimensional maneuvering sort of thing, and decided that naturally the obvious thing to do was spaceships."
     The actual concept, however, of games played on a television was thought up by Ralph Baer in ’51. His idea was rejected at the time by the TV company he worked for, and it wasn’t until years later in 1966 that he developed “The Brown Box”; battery-powered and incapable of sound, the Brown Box was the first ever home games console, and the prototype for the Magnavox Odyssey. The Odyssey had 28 games and supported up to two light-guns which registered the light from the TV screen. And any other light; pointing the gun at a lightbulb or another nearby light source had the effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment