History of the video game

Though the history of the video game spans almost five decades, video games themselves didn't become part of the populare culture until the late 1970s.

Table of contents
1 The Early Years
2 The 1960s
3 The 1970s
4 The 1980s
5 The 1990s
6 Early 21st Century
7 External links

The Early Years

Video games probably began in 1958 when Tennis for Two, a precursor to Pong, was developed to entertain visitors to Brookhaven National Laboratory. Later developers were apparently unaware of this until after the new type of game was well established.

The 1960s

In 1961, a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell, programmed a game called Spacewar on the then-new DEC PDP-1. The game pitted two human players against each other, each controlling a space ship capable of firing missiles. A black hole in the centre created a large gravitational field and another source of hazard. This game was soon distributed with new DEC computers and traded throughout primitve cyberspace. It was the first widely available and influential game.

The 1970s

In 1970, an engineer named Ralph Baer created the game called Computer Space based on Space War. Nolan Bushnell tried to make an arcade version of Space War and created Computer Space. Nutting Associates bought the game, hired Nolan and manufactured 1,500 Space War machines. The game was not a success because people found it difficult to play.

As Nolan felt he didn't receive enough pay, he created his own company: Atari in 1972.

The first console video game with widespread success was Atari's Pong, developed in 1972. The game is loosely based around tennis: Two players each control a "paddle" which has the freedom to move up and down at their end of the "court". A ball is "served" from the center of the court and as the ball moves towards their side of the court each player must maneuver their bat to hit the ball back to their opponent. It "broke" the firts night from having too many qurters put into it, and soon had many imitators. The coin-operated arcade video game craze had begun.

1972 also saw the release of the first video game console for the home market, the Magnavox Odyssey. The console was connected to a home TV set. Built using mainly analog electronics, it was not a large success, although other companies with similar products had to pay a license fee for some time. Magnavox Colossal Cave (also known as Adventure) was one of the first adventure games.

1976 saw the first controversy over gratuitous violence in a video game, with the release of Death Race, by Exidy, where the object of the game was to run over "gremlins"—who looked more like pedestrians—with a car. The controversy increased public awareness of video games.

Early home computers from Apple, Commodore, TRS-80 and others had many games, that people typed in from books (those present will remember David Ahl's book, Basic Computer Games), magazines (Creative Computing), and cassette tapes, floppy disks, and ROM cartridges.

In 1977, Atari released its cartridge-based console called Video Computer System (VCS), later called Atari 2600.

In 1978, Nintendo released an arcade game: Computer Othello.

In 1978, Atari released Asteroids, its biggest best-seller. It replaced the game Lunar Lander as the number one arcade hit.

In 1979 Activision was created by disgruntled former Atari programmers. It was the first third-party developer for Atari 2600.

Other arcade classics of the late 1970s include Night Driver, Space Invaders, Breakout and Battle Zone.

The 1980s

In 1980, Pacman (first powerups?) was released, the most popular arcade game of all time. 100,000 units are sold in the United States. Williams created Defender, a side-scrolling shooter which was also very popular.

Shigeru Miyamoto was asked to fix the pre-production Radarscope, an arcade game to be released by Nintendo. He decided to make a new game instead: Donkey Kong, which instantly became a big success.

Coleco released Colecovision, a cartridge-based home console. Nintendo licensed Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr to Coleco. Midway released a top-selling game: Ms. Pacman and Namco released Super Pacman.

The famous Commodore 64 (C64) was released in 1983. This was a great success in sales, because it was marketed aggresively. It had a BASIC programming environment and advanced graphic and sound capabilities for its time, similar to the Atari 2600 console.

The Apple Macintosh arrives in 1984. It lacks color, but the operating system support for the GUI attracted developers of some interesting games (e.g. Lode Runner) even before color returns in 1987 with the Mac II.

Nintendo finally decided in 1985 to release its Famicom in the United States under the name Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was bundled with Super Mario Brothers and it suddenly became a success.

In 1989 Nintendo released the Game Boy, a monochrome handheld console. Sega released its 16-bit console, Sega Genesis.

The 1990s

In 1990, Nintendo's sales rose because of the success of Super Mario 3. SNK released the 24-bit NeoGeo console in home and arcade formats.

In 1991, Nintendo released the SNES home console. Sega created Sonic. The first fighting game arcade success was Street Fighter II, released by Capcom.

Midway released its top-selling fighting game Mortal Kombat in 1992. It became an instant success. It was the first game with digitized characters. It was criticized for its gratuitous violence, which ironically added to its popularity. Nintendo released a version for SNES without blood and different fatalities.

Rare made a game for Nintendo called Donkey Kong Country. The game was popular because of its distinct graphics, sound and gameplay. Its 3D pre-rendered graphics contributed to its success. Nintendo released Super Game Boy, an adaptation for the SNES in order to be able to play Gameboy games in the console.

In 1995, Nintendo released its 32-bit console called Virtual Boy. Sony released the PlayStation and its sales started to rival Nintendo.

After many delays, the Nintendo 64 appeared in 1996. More than 1.5 million units were sold in only three months. Nintendo stopped manufacturing Virtual Boy.

In 1998, Sega released the DreamCast (named Katana before release). Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and the Game Boy Color.

In 1999, Connectix Corporation released the Virtual Game Station, a successful PlayStation emulator. Sony went to court to dispute the legality of the system, but Connectix won. The Bleem company released Bleem, another PlayStation emulator.

Early 21st Century

In 2000, Sony released PlayStation 2. Nintendo released the GameCube.

In 2001, Microsoft entered the videogame industry by releasing its new home console, the Xbox. Nintendo released the successor to the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance.

In 2003, Microsoft bought Rare. Nokia introduced the N-Gage multimedia handheld console. 3DO filed bankruptcy. Nintendo released the GBA-SP compact handheld console. Infogrames changed its name to Atari.

See also:

While the fruit of development in early video games appeared mainly (for the consumer) in video arcades and home consoles, the rapidly evolving home computers of the early 1970s and 80s allowed their owners to program extremely simple games. Soon many of these games (often clones of popular arcade games) were being distributed through a variety of channels, included the physical mailing and selling of floppy disks and tapes, and the inclusion of the game's source code in magazines and newsletters, which allowed users to type in the code for themselves.

Soon a small cottage industry was formed, with amateur coders selling disks in plastic bags sent through the mail.

See also : Videogame Timeline, Video game

External links




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