Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Arcade Games Officially Over The Hill

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the everyone-loves-an-anniversary dept.

Games 121

evilandi writes: "Spacewar, the world's first arcade game, is 40 years old this summer. Read this article at the BBC and play Spacewar using a Java emulator- remember, this was a two-player only game, designed in 1961 when programmers had friends who were in the same room! Spacewar, which was similar to Asteroids, later shipped as standard software for the PDP-1." Well, maybe the first electronic arcade game ;) -- or can anyone cite counterexamples?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Re:What about PONG . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2183569)

According to the PONG FAQ, spacewar is the _second_ video game:

"MIT student in 1961, creates "Spacewar"(the second video game), is the first interactive computer game on a Digital PDP-1 computer."

See the rest at < ongfaq.shtml> (After removing the slashspace between realp and ongfaq)

Games went "over the hill" w intro of "continue" (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2183570)

Before arcade games had the "continue" option, then games were meant to be FUN and to ENTERTAIN and CHALLENGE the player to improve. They started easy and became more difficult as you played. Eventually, the skilled player could play forever on a single credit.

The "continue" option, once a curiosity and a gift to the player, is now routinely abused. It's lets the game designers slack off and make games impossible to become good at. "The player can just 'continue'" they'll say. And the new player dies in 20 seconds. Yah, there's a great way to hook new players.

And moreover, it is now the goal to force players to continue ad infinitum. Because entertainment is no longer the main reason for arcades, but rather, extracting money from player's wallets.

"powerups" are also an almost equally bad concept. Because when you die and lose your powerups, you are so hopelessly underpowered that you may as well walk away from the game at that point.

I fully expect to see the above two concepts combined someday. With a row of slots labeled with the various powerups which the player inserts quarters into to "buy" during game play.

More than Spacewar (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2183571)

Heres a Did You Know for anyone who didn't: Spacewar was based on a mathmatical accident?

A coder was attempting to draw a curved line on the screen of the TX-0. However, he misplaced a symbol in the code, and when the code was ran, it drew a circle. This was a surprise to the coder, to say the least. He had just discovered a new mathmatical process.

That code to draw the circle, ended up being the code that drew the "black-hole" in the center of the screen.

O.K it's a tenious link, but still.

Re:I remember it in the arcade (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183572)

That makes two of us. The game was wonderful, and challenging, with lots of options. Vectored thrust made it hard for anyone who didn't understand physics to play.

I have not been able to find a copy of it in any arcade game systems.


Re:Can't stand the AI (1)

nito (1314) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183573)

Did you read the post???

It says it is a "two-player only game"!
Stop privacy invasion!

Re:Poor British (1)

Plutor (2994) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183574)

The article was written in 1981.

Re:unfair! unfair! age discrimination ! (1)

Plutor (2994) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183575)

The life expectancy for an American in 1998 (most recent available statistics) is 76.7. The numbers fall between 75 and 80 for most citizens of western Europe, and is only slightly lower for those of eastern Europe and most of Asia. Therefore, 40 is an accurate average halfway-point for most humans.

The ships spin around their noses! (1)

Partisan (3249) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183576)

I've just spent a few minutes playing the Java emulated version. It's pretty neat.

I noticed that the center of rotation is the nose of the ship instead of a point at the center of the ship, like in Asteroids.

I can't remember seeing any other game like this where the rotation center was not the ship center.

I wonder if it was designed that way on purpose or if it's just that way because nobody had ever done it any other way.

Also I think it's more fun to try to put the ships in a stable orbit than to try to fly and shoot. Of course I'm the only one here so there's nobody else to shoot at!

First Electronic Game... (2)

Ricdude (4163) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183577)

I recall a story online about what a few computer researchers considered their first computer game. It consisted of loading the computer full of NOP statements (no-operation, i.e. don't do anything this clock cycle), pushing the "RUN" button to start the program, and seeing who could hit the "STOP" button the fastest. Why let things like total lack of UI ruin the opportunity for a good competition?

Re:The real questions... (5)

maggard (5579) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183578)

Is the original Spacewar code out there? Yes.

When I was Manager at The Computer Museum we had the code in the backroom on papertape. Since then I've seen it floating around for the PDP-1 emulators. It was in machine code so there was no source/compile/binary path.

As The Computer Museum (neé The Digital Computer Museum (Digital as in DEC)) had a full working PDP-1 out on permanent display for special occasions (or for Big Donors which is the same thing) we'd fire it all up & let folks play on the original hardware.

Speaking as not-a-big-gamer it was fun, challenging, impressively responsive. Invariably it was a crowd pleaser to both young and old alike. Considering that "glass teletypes" were a novelty when Spacewar debuted the vector-graphics & fluid motion were undoubtably a revalation to most folks.


  • "Spacewar" is widely considered the first computer arcade game. Defining "first" is always a tricky business as there's always someone coming out of the woodwork with a one-off they built presumably years before or with something else in mind but it could be interpreted as, etc.
  • We often stored a spare bag of vomit-cleanup in the large interior of the (unplugged) PDP-1. Nothing to do with the PDP-1 it was just the most convenient place in that gallery. However occ. when showing off the PDP-1 to guests (who'd often worked on it) they were startled to see it when we'd open the case.
  • The PDP-1 monitor was a hexagonal case with a circular display. The hexagon-enclosing-a-circle later became the logo for DECUS, the Digital Equipment Corporation User Group.

Loss of street cred.... (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183580)

..arcade games have no street cred when kids realise their grandad could've been doing the same thing.

unfair! unfair! age discrimination ! (1)

evil-beaver (15985) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183581)

Hey come on!40 isn't over the hill. The Human body is capable of life for a maximum of 120 years. I think the oldest person ever on record was like 121 or thereabouts.So if that's true then 61 would be target age. And no I'm not 40, I've still got a ways to go yet before I get there. : )

Re:E-Toys (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183583)

"You love the e-Plane_arium. You will help the e-Plane_arium in any way you can."


E-Toys (5)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183585)

Quoth the history essay:
Steve Piner wrote a text display and editing program called Expensive Typewriter (For a while, "expensive" was a favorite adjective for naming various PDP-1 routines that imitated the functions of more mundane devices. Among them was Peter Samson's E. Planetarium, as we shall see.)

So that's what the 'E' in all those e-businesses stands for. I would've done better in the NASDAQ if someone had told me sooner.


Re:What about PONG . (4)

gorilla (36491) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183586)

Actually it wasn't jammed, the coins fell into an empty milk carton, and the coins overflowed the carton, and landed on the PCB. The excellent Pong Story [] website has all the details.

Asteroids! (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183587)

Vector graphics. Gray on black. The controls were rotate left, rotate right, accelerate, and fire. Great game.

Re:Arcade games over the hill? (1)

WinDoze (52234) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183588)

I believe the "nasties" were actually called "Space Invaders"... :)

Try Kennywood. (2)

solios (53048) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183589)

Kennywood, outside of Pittsburgh, has few arcade stands. Not nearly as intense and amazing as Hershey was way back in '92, but - get this- they have a ORIGINAL WORKING SPACIE INVADERS. The case is old, the paint and instructions worn completely off by over twenty years of gaming. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, they have Dig Dug and a few others- still just a quarter.

Hell, I commute three hundred miles twice annually to access the only working Centipede machine I've ever found. One quarter on that will last you longer than half a dozen will on Tekken....

Re:First one I Saw (3)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183590)

> It's amazing what playing those old games brings back. If I fire up MAME with any given ROM, chances are I've seen the game and can tell you exactly what I was doing at that point in my life.

Shameless plug alert: If you're in the Bay Area, you can get the real thing in about six weeks:

CA Extreme [] , September 15-16, in San Jose. Two days, all the classic arcade machines you can play. There's even a bunch of guys with a laser projector hooked up to vector games... (C'mon, what geek didn't fantasize about being able to play Tempest using a low-lying cloud as a projection screen, FAA regs be damned ;-)

And under the same roof at the same time, Vintage Computer Fest 5.0 [] . The name says it all, tons of stuff to dr00l over.

Re:Spacewar with lasers (3)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183591)

> A couple of bits of broken mirror, a pair of speakers to drive X-Y deflection, a laser pointer, and the side of a building...

LaserMAME [] . Laser projection isn't as simple as it looks, and it's taken about 20 years for the tech to get cheap enough to filter down to the geek level, but it's here.

(For the simpler graphics of SpaceWar, it could probably be done for less than $1000 in used/reconditioned parts, and would make an excellent science project if you've got high-school age sproggen.)

Arcades killed themselves (2)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183592)

My friends and I really enjoyed hanging out at the arcades. Then they started getting machines that forced you to keep adding quarters no matter what your skill was.

Do I look like a gambling addict?

Wait until the X-box becomes a subscription service.

Re:The real questions... (2)

anonymous loser (58627) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183593)

Spacewar was written in machine code.

First one I Saw (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183595)

Was Space Invaders in 1978, in a drug store at the Ala-Moana mall in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was hooked on sight, and my fate was sealed in that one moment. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I ended up as a computer programmer.

It's amazing what playing those old games brings back. If I fire up MAME with any given ROM, chances are I've seen the game and can tell you exactly what I was doing at that point in my life.

As an aside, the first game I was ever good at was Spy Hunter. Most of the time my quarter would last under a minute, but I could play Spy Hunter for upwards of an hour.

I remember it in the arcade (1)

Hell O'World (88678) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183596)

The Space Wars machine wasn't like the other games. The graphics on the outside were plain. The game was great! It had so many options. With/without the black hole, one/two player, and so many others. My friends didn't seem to see the magic in it like I did, though. Too complicated. But the physics of it! I knew it was special. When Asteroids came along, the ideas had been refined, and perhaps dumbed down enough for it to become popular. Years later when I read on the 'net of the hallowed history of the game, and of its geek following, I knew I was part of a tradition.

Arcades.....I miss them.... (2)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183597)

I remember when I saw the Space War game in an arcade. It was cool even though it was not the best in the arcade. The arcade was one in Hersheypark (the big one not far from the Kissing Tower). All of the new games (new at the time) were the laser disc type stuff or similar. Ones like Firfox(LOVE that game), LockOn, Dragon's Lair, Space Ace (could never figure these ones out) and of course PacMan's and others. In the big, dank corner of the arcade they had Star Trek, Space War and Moon Lander. Space war intrigued me but I thought Moon Lander was the coolest because of the big throttle control they had on that thing. It was cooler then the controller FireFox and Star Wars used but much older. I never landed the lander but man did I plug quarters in it!

I will be able to visit this arcade in about two weeks. According to Hersheypark's website it's still there. Man I hope there are at least some of the old games there (I would LOVE to play Firefox but I here because of the cheap assed laser disc that was in it there may not be many working ones around).

I think MAME is a good thing and I would like to see some of teh manufacturers release the ROMS with no leagal issues attached so we can either download them, or pay a fee for a CD full of them. The arcade games of the past must be preserved and if they can't be preserved in the antique sense, we should at least preserve the code so they can be played on modern machines.

Re:Poor British (1)

Keelor (95571) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183598)

All flaming aside, if you knew your history, the TX-0 has less computational power than your average palm top. The PDP-1 isn't much more powerful.

That's my point--I was just pointing out a(nother) small problem with the article. I just forgot to add the *dripping sarcasm*.


Poor British (4)

Keelor (95571) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183599)

The task fell to a group of proto-geeks enthused by the possibilities of the shocking amounts of computer power suddenly available - about that of a modern day palmtop computer.


Giddy with the power of the TX-0 and another MIT computer, a DEC PDP-1, the group decided to recreate the galactic vista of Doc Smith's work using the 30 line display and mighty nine kilobytes of memory available on the PDP.

Wow... I guess palmtops in the UK must be behind the times a bit.


minor spin-offs (2)

Espen (96293) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183600)

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the 'minor' historical detail that a chap named Ken Thompson decided that writing something called UNIX and B would be a helpful in porting a more advanced version of Spacewar called Space Travel to a shiny new PDP, and ensure that it could be repeated easily each time a new machine was brought in.

Re:Spacewar? (1)

stu72 (96650) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183601)

In A.D. 1961
Space War was beginning.
Captain: What happen ?
Operator: Somebody set up us the black hole
Operator: We get signal
Captain: What !
Operator: Oscilliscope turn on
Captain: It's You !!
Cats: How are you gentlemen !!
Cats: All your ships are belong to our gravity
Cats: You are on the way to destruction
Captain: What you say !!
Cats: You have no chance to survive make your time
Cats: HA HA HA HA ....
Captain: Take off every 'zig*'
Captain: You know what you doing
Captain: Move 'zig'
Captain: For great gaming hegemony

* zig = Zero Influence of Gravity torpedos

The first video game (1)

rosewood (99925) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183602)

If I remember correctly the first video game was at some family gtg way back when. Some guy used an oscilliscope? to make a 'tenis' game. Anyone have more info. Saw this on History Chan a bit back.

Re:What about PONG . (2)

Troed (102527) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183603)

Moderators, read the link?

Quotes from the linked article:

  • Atari Pong - 1975-1977
  • Pong, while not the first videogame
  • Spacewar is generally considered to be the first nationally-recognized computer game. Programmed in 1962 by MIT student Steve Russell

What it _does_ say about 1958 is: Willy Higinbotham is often recognized as inventing the first "video" style game. While working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1958, Higinbotham turned an oscilloscope into a playable version of video tennis, which he called "Tennis for Two."

Now if you want more on Pong and Nolan, go see my other post ;)

Re:Computer Space was first!! (3)

Troed (102527) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183604)

Of course, made by Nolan Bushnell [] - who set aforth to create Atari, dominating the videogame industry for years.


  • He is arguably the father of computer entertainment.
  • Nolan Bushnell founded Atari in 1972
  • and the following year opened the first Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant
  • created [...] Commputer (sic) Space (in 1970), in your daughter's bedroom

Spacewar wasn't much of a success (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183605)

Spacewar came before Pong, but wasn't very sucessful. Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari, ported Spacewar, but it wasn't too successful (it had *gasp* instructions), so he made a game simple enough for "a drunk in a bar" to play - Pong. See [] for more info.

Spy Hunter clone in Excel 2000 (2)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183606)

Speaking of Spy Hunter, MS have left a clone of it, called Dev Hunter, as an Easter Egg in Excel 2000 [] (it's way more fun than that stupid flight simulator from 97). See, they're not totally evil : )

Re:Programming the way God intended (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183608)

Nope. I don't even play him on TV.

Who is Scott Nudds?

Programming the way God intended (3)

smcdow (114828) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183609)

Look at the source [] , which is in this [] directory.

Gotta love assembly!! Makes you wonder why we ever bothered inventing higher level languages....

Re:unfair! unfair! age discrimination ! (4)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183610)

I was just reading the H1B thread, and the IT-People-Are-Not-Ageist argument was being bandied about. Then I see 40=over the hill here :)

Nah, this isn't a kingdom run by 25 year olds :)

When I was punk kid of 20, I used to wonder why the old farts of 40 used to smile at us when we so rightously derided their gray hairs and hairy ears. Now I know why they smiled...

If they would have said something in response, it would have been this: "It's your turn REAL SOON, monkey boy. And I'm doing yer girlfriend."

I hope the yunguns here enjoy the scenery, 'cause it ain't gonna last long for them. I wonder, with how much aplomb will they face the end of their careers at 35?

I'm hoping for 150 meself.

Computer Space was Spacewar (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183612)

Typically the came Computer Space is considered the first "arcade" game

A quick Google search [] shows that Computer Space was the same thing as Spacewar, except ported from PDP to dedicated hardware.

because it set precedent for all future games: coin accepting, dedicated unit instead of multipurpose computer

All? Taito's Space Invaders (1977) was one of the first popular arcade games to use a microprocessor instead of a board full of 7400-series logic chips. Nintendo's VS Multisystem and PlayChoice machines, SNK's Neo-Geo system, and the Capcom Play System had replaceable program cartridges, making the machines definitely multipurpose.

Re:What about PONG . (1)

patter (128866) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183614)

Pong Was the first, making it's debut in 1958 according to this article

The article seems rather confused.. PONG was produced in 1973, not 1958. Atari wasn't even founded until 1972, when Nolan Bushnell left another job. The guys at classic gaming should maybe do some research. I think they were referring to the game created by Willy Higinbottom at the Brookhaven national Lab. The game was a tennis type game. (looked like Pong turned sideways) game played on an Ocilliscope (sp?).

Re:Arcade games over the hill? (1)

fobbman (131816) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183615)

YES! There was a military game where the person was to drive a jeep around buldings and shoot tanks and such, with the occasional helicopter flying in to make things interesting. The buildings were overlays on the glass.

I had located this game ROM for MAME awhile back ( the machine and it's stored in my closet) and loaded it into the trusty emulator only to find that...well...all you could see was a black screen, your vector-drawn jeep, the approaching tanks, and NO buildings. Talk about a challenge!

shameless karma whoring (3)

kisrael (134664) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183616)

At the end of may I wrote up spacewar for my quote/link blog [] :

Spacewar! [] is one of the grand-daddies of modern videogames, and a much deeper deathmatch than Pong. (I was amazed at how developed its deathmatch became when I read this old Rolling Stones article [] .) Written by MIT Hackers who were inspired by the space opera Fiction of E.E. "Doc" Smith [] . Someone has an the original game [] running on a PDP-1 emulator. There's a decent funny introduction at [] and a more comprehensive set of Spacewar! links [] as well. (Possibly the most obvious sequal to Spacewar! was the brilliant Star Control series [] . The first game added 12 new types of ships, each with 2 unique weapons systems, and the second created a whole universe to support it. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.)

Classic Games and The "Continue" Feature (2)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183619)

At a highway rest stop the other week, I saw a brand spanking new Namco machine that had Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga in the same box! I thought that was cool and a great idea. It was the same old classic 8-bit arcade games that have been in arcades since the early 80's, not with revamped updated 3D 256-bit graphics.

I proceeded to play a (rather successful, by my standards) game of Galaga, and the WEIRDEST FREAKING THING HAPPENED when my last ship got destroyed.

Galaga asked me to CONTINUE!!! I am still sort of shaken up by this. They released the classic Galaga, but with a hack in it that lets you continue. How ODD! I mean, I've been playing Galaga for like 20 years now, and it never asked me to continue until last month. What the hell?

For a game dork like me, that's like looking up one day and noticing there are two suns or something.

My first time... (1)

chinton (151403) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183620)

A friend and I were about 13 and his parents rented a Winnebago to take a trip. They asked me to come along. One of the stops was in Las Vegas (only 2 weeks before the big MGM fire). We walked into the upper floor of the Circus Circus and that was where I saw Asteroids for the first time. I was never really good at it, but it remains on of my favs.

The real questions... (2)

Spoing (152917) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183623)

Does anyone have the source? Does it compile?

Re:What about PONG . (1)

kerrbear (163235) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183624)

Spacewar, for all its charm, never really made it past the eyes of a few hundred geeks.

Spacewar did come out later after the pong craze. I remember playing it with my brother at an amusement park. We played until we were out of money. Things that were cooler than pong about it:

  • Vector graphics with really thin lines
  • Fantasy factor- you could pretend you were in a spaceship instead of pretending you were on a tennis court
  • Cool options like the black hole

I can't remember if this was before or after Space Invaders but I think it was before.

8088... (1)

RazorJ_2000 (164431) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183625)

Ok, I admit... every so often I fire up my still working 8088 and play a game of spacewar against the computer. Not bad for a machine that's about 15yrs old. And it still runs Wordperfect 5.1 and Lotus 123 2.2 very well. Of course the old seagate 30MB is finally starting to show some errors, but I figure it's good for at least another 5 to 10 yrs yet.

Re:hide bill's BASIC (1)

hotgrits (183266) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183627)

Thanks for this link! I've been looking for Billy Boy's legendary letter for some years now.

It's the last open thing Microsoft's ever written.

Re:Arcade games over the hill? (2)

dohnut (189348) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183628)

No, they had multiple colors, they just had to glue colored cellophane onto the screen to achieve it.

I'm not making that up. :*)

Spacewar with lasers (3)

dstone (191334) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183629)

A couple of bits of broken mirror, a pair of speakers to drive X-Y deflection, a laser pointer, and the side of a building...

Anyone? Anyone?

Re:What about PONG . (2)

Terry Cumming (200255) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183630)

Pinball machines did not use electronics until the mid-late 1970s. Prior to that, the game logic was
implemented by electromechanical relays and switches only.

Williams experimented with electronics in the
early 1960s (1963?) but did not implement them due to cost.

There were some experimental electronic games in the 1974 period (with some work done by Dave Nutting of "Computer Space" fame).

The first commercial electronic pins controlled by a CPU appeared in the 1976-77 period. By 1979, all major US mfrs produced only electronic pinballs.

Not the first (3)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183631)

I seem to remember a story on the History Chanel about a tennis game played on Osciliscopes built out of stray tubes and solenoids. Happened around 1951 I think. Anyone have more info?

Forty years on (2)

L41N14L (205602) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183632)

Shouldn't we now have Son Of Spacewar!

Re:Not the first (1)

5KVGhost (208137) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183634)

Yup. There was an extensive article about Willy's creation in Creative Computing magazine, back in the 80's. I have that issue at home somewhere.

And here's another cool article about Spacewar, also from the late lamented Creative Computing magazine: r.html

Hmmm. (2)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183635)

this was a two-player only game, designed in 1961 when programmers had friends who were in the same room! Did anyone else feel really sad when you read this?

I'm serious.

A honky-tonk hero? (1)

T1girl (213375) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183636)

You might fit in here [] or here [] .

Don't download anything

Creative computing, (2)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183637)

I REALLY like the spacewar link, with the first picture of the "computer" and the text below "Creative Computing".
I guess it was a year or two before IBMs "Deep Computing".

For sale: Rhesus-Monkey-Torture-Kit 40$

What about PONG . (1)

cybrchld (229583) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183639)

I always thought pong was the first arcade game.

The vary first computer based game (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183640)

Here's an excerpt from the website [] - the history of the video game:
Although not a video game, Willy Higinbotham built in 1958 the very first game based around a computer and a CRT at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, New-York, USA). The game was shown to the public during two years in the labs, used an oscilloscope to generate the picture, and a vaccuum tube analog computer to calculate the trajectory of the ball. The game consisted in a little tennis court shown in front view: a reversed 'T' as a net, and a bouncing point as the ball (you can read a very interesting article [] about the story of this game). Unfortunately, Willy Higinbotham did not find any interest in his game, and did not patent it. What a pitty, when we see all the money involved in video games ! This was the short story of the first game.
I guess it all depends on how you define arcade game...


Re:What about PONG . (1)

hellsop (230981) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183641)

Pong was the first stand-alone commercial game that accepted money for play. In short, the first that marketers care about.

Arcade games over the hill? (4)

gwizah (236406) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183642)

Why! Im my day we had to walk 5 miles through the snow to get to the arcade!
We didnt have these fancy-schmancy game cards or tokens...Our machines used quarters! And we liked it!
We didnt have these 3d-shoot-em-up, Parallax-scrolling, 60 fps, CD-sound, thingamabobs! We had two colors, BLACK and GREEN and the game was about as fun as getting your back waxed and WE LIKED IT!

Re:Not the first (5)

HoldmyCauls (239328) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183644)

I found a story about this here:

for the lazy: it says that the oscilloscope pong game (called "Tennis programming") was developed by Willy Higinbotham (no typos there), a chainsmoker (unfiltered, no less!) in 1958, beating SpaceWar by nearly three years.

Lots of good tech info on the page, though.

Re:Not the first (1)

NathanL (248026) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183645)

I remember the Atari 2600 3D tic-tac-toe would cheat by not letting you make a move that wasn't in its favor.

First electronic quarter arcade (3)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183647)

Interesting timing. A few months ago Wired published an article detailing the history of electronic arcade games. Pong was the first electronic arcade game with a coin slot. The guys who invented it found it was popular in their local bar, so they started charging a little per game.


If arcade games are over the hill... (2)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183649)

what am I since I still prefer good old pinball :)

Re:Arcades killed themselves (1)

TheWhiteOtaku (266508) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183651)

Wait until the X-box becomes a subscription service.

Or you could (gasp) NOT buy the X-Box if you'd rather not see it turn into a subscription service.

Re:What about PONG . (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183652)

I guess the point I was trying to make is that depending on the way in which you classify a video based game may vary, and as such, you could possibly construe Mr. Higginbottom's game the very first 'arcade' game, since nothing prior to that game could be classified as 'video' or 'electronic only' based. If we're basing the 'arcade' classification as coin-op, then spacewar wins, if 'purchase required', then Pong wins.

Re:What about PONG . (5)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183653)

Pong [] Was the first, making it's debut in 1958 according to this article. I also saw the little History Channel's Lost and Found episode over the weekend, and while the guy that invented Pong, as a previous poster mentioned, didn't intend to do anything more than amuse the public, it does stand as the first publicly playable electronic game. Of course, no one charged money to play it, which may mean it doesn't count as the first 'arcade' game per se.

Re:Not the first (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183654)

How do you cheat at Tic Tac Toe? Maybe adding extra x's, or moving around the x's and o's, but both of those would be rather obvious.

Re:The ships spin around their noses! (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183656)

> Also I think it's more fun to try to put the
> ships in a stable orbit than to try to fly and
> shoot.

I thought that, too.

What we need is a link to a Java Moon Lander-type game.

Re:What about PONG . (5)

freeweed (309734) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183657)

PONG was the first commercially sucessful arcade game. Spacewar, for all its charm, never really made it past the eyes of a few hundred geeks. PONG came out a decade after, and after a day or 2 in operation, the owner called in for repairs thinking it was broken - turns out the coin slot was jammed full of quarters :) If this doesn't indicate just how new arcade games were at the time, I don't know what will!

Incidentally, Spacewar is typically considered the first VIDEO game. As I'm sure lots of other people will point out, pinball had electronic components in it for a long time before 1961. And just for more useless trivia, the first HOME video game was the Oddyssey, built by Magnavox in 1972. So old, it didn't even have a microprocessor... just yards and yards of transistors and the like... those were the days all right!

Since I'm not yet 40... (2)

JohnnyKnoxville (311956) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183658)

it gives me a warm feelimg inside to know that arcade games have been around all my life.

Re:First electronic quarter arcade (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183659)

I recall a vector-drawn coin-op version of SpaceWar from around 1979... myself and a friend used to play it religously, but I never saw it anywhere again before or after...

Anyone know who made it and when?

Re:Games went "over the hill" w intro of "continue (2)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183660)

"And moreover, it is now the goal to force players to continue ad infinitum. Because entertainment is no longer the main reason for arcades, but rather, extracting money from player's wallets."

Ummm, since when was this *not* the case? I would have thought that coin-ops have always been designed to make money.

Re:Oh no (1)

Stween (322349) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183661)

And, oddly enough, these are two themes we still find in many modern-day games...

All thats changed since then is that the gfx are more impressive and sound counts for something :)

---- []

Further addenda (2)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183662)

Maybe the first, fully, electronic arcade game. I'm sure pinball games and so forth had flashing lights in the 50's--after all, jukeboxes did.

Play Pong on Web (2)

K4GPB (413101) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183664)

Play pong []

Re:Forty years on (2)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183665)

Tim Burton is planning on releasing a new "imagining" of SpaceWar. He has revealed that it will not be the same game, but will retain the spirit of the original. The original SpaceWar vector graphics will have a small cameo in the new game.
Insiders say the new game has several alternate endings, none of which make any sense whatsoever.

A little bit of history... (4)

Bonkers54 (416354) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183666)

Here [] 's a clip from an old MIT publishing.

Where did all the time go?

Friends in the same room? (1)

sllort (442574) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183667)

in 1961 when programmers had friends who were in the same room!

Hey, it's 2001 and I have a friend in my room! [] Microsoft Bob keeps me company when I am lonely. I just turn his politeness level up to 11, and then I can spend hours with delightful conversations like this:

M: Bob, open Word.
B: What's the magic word?
M: Bob, please open Word?
B: Here you are.
B: chug chug chug chug
B: (opens Word)
B: You're welcome!

Re:Since I'm not yet 40... (1)

beanerspace (443710) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183668)

Don't forget all those neat missle programs and satellite firmware !-)

hide bill's BASIC (2)

beanerspace (443710) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183669)

Darn, and here I was under the delusion that the first computer game was a socially engineered version of hide-n-go-seek developed by the Altiar loving Home-Brew [] club, otherwise known as "steal Bill's BASIC. [] "

Re:The history (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183671)

Galaxy Game indeed took coins, although dimes, not quarters. The machine was built on the PDP-11, not the IBM 704. Maury

The history (2)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183672)

Some basic points here... 1) Spacewar! was the first _computer_video_game. There were video games that were earlier (Tennis for Two and possibly a Golf game from England). There were computer games that were earlier (tic-tac-toe and such). Spacewar! was certainly the first to put them together. 2) The first video arcade game, as such, was neither Computer Space or PONG. It was Galaxy Game. It was built to the tune of one machine, but ran for seven years straight. It claims the title by about one month. 3) Computer Space was the first arcade game to make it out to the public, and thus arguably claims the title for itself. Also the dates are so close one may be able to show this was earlier than GG, but that might be tough. Full details: Maury

Wait a minute (1)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183673)

What do you mean by over the hill? Aren't you under the hill at age 40, more or less?

sorry, couldn't resist

Oh no (3)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183674)

Heavens, people are going to start actually playing it just because it's old.

On a side note, it's interesting that the first arcade game had something to do with:

  • War
  • Space
If you look at the date (1961), it all fits nicely into a cold war space race context, doesn't it?

For a little history from the innovators.... (1)

AtariKee (455870) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183675)

...visit my site at [] . Read in particular the interview with Al Alcorn [] , Atari employee #1.

As was posted earlier by Demigod2k (or was it 99?), Computer Space (from Nutting & Associates)is generally known as the first coin-operated video arcade game. CS was a stand-alone version of Spacewar! It is also known as the first coin-operated video game flop; it sold less than 2,000 units. Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney took the royalties from CS and formed Syzygy, which later became Atari (the original name was taken). Al Alcorn was hired and given the task of designing a tennis game. Nolan lied to Al and told him they had a contract with GE to create the game, when in actuality it was an exercise to see how Al could handle the job (the idea was to create a racing game afterwords). They put the game on location, and it did so well that the coin mechanism got jammed with quarters.

And so launched the gaming industry as we know it...

Re:For a little history from the innovators.... (1)

AtariKee (455870) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183676)

Sorry.... damn typos.

The site is [] . The interview is here [] .

Re:Ya Spacewars . . . (1)

AtariKee (455870) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183677)

"I remember an arcade 2 person version of Space Wars, not sure if it had the same name."

You nailed it. Cinematronics' Space Wars [] , designed by Larry Rosenthal, was the name of the game. Here [] is a history of the company, with information about Larry and Space Wars. VERY interesting reading.

Incidently, there are a couple [] of other clones [] of Spacewar! besides Space Wars and Computer Space [] .

Re:Arcade games over the hill? (1)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183678)

IIRC Space invaders used that to change the colour of the 'nasties' as they moved down the screen

Mechanical Arcade (1)

vu13 (462742) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183679)

Actually they had a bunch of mechanical arcade games. One I remember was a driving game. The road was on a spool and you used a steering wheel to move the car in order to keep it on the road. They had all sorts of things like this. You can still find them at older amusement parks that haven't been bought out.

Re:Play Pong on Web (1)

JerryKnight (465510) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183680)

some slight problems with the bouncing (sometimes in the wrong direction), or was that part of the original?

ahh ... the simple ones are the best! (1)

Gallo Nero (466182) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183681)

I love those old simple games, especially the two player ones. I remember writing a simple 'tron-cycle-type-game' for the Amiga while I was at college, it kept me and my flatmates amused for hours. Much more fun than Lemmings or whatever was about at the time, mainly because you were competing directly with another person and what's more he was in the same room, in fact on the same keyboard, so you got the added motivation of hearing him curse you when you kicked his arse!

go on, shoot some worms! []

What about Babbage? (1)

RatOmeter (468015) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183682)

I understand from Charles Babbage's bio that he
was gonna open an arcade, but he couldn't make
a working coin mech...

Over the hill... (1)

MWeiss Accrisoft (470162) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183683)

Ahh the good old days... :) Pong and pacman...

Re:Programming the way God intended (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183684)

Somebody who also is/was a big fan of assembler, who basically said what you did, adding things like
"Assembler is as portable as C. The only difference is the availability of translators."

"Assembly is much easier than C."

Computer Space was first!! (2)

demigod2k (471203) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183686)

Typically the came Computer Space [] is considered the first "arcade" game because it set precedent for all future games: coin accepting, dedicated unit instead of multipurpose computer, display, controls, etc. Check or for more info, or if you'd like to chat about the classics hit #rgvac on EFNet. Also usenet

Re:Not the first (2)

Runt-Abu (471363) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183687)

I vaugly recall that the Illiac-1 (built 1951) had a version of tic-tac-toe in which the computer cheated if you knew the correct sequence.

pinball (1)

yranoitcidtekcop (471993) | more than 13 years ago | (#2183688)

pinball is fun... but now I must go try out space wars.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?