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Videogames Turn 40

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the oh-man-we're-all-old-now dept.

Games 117

May 15th marks the 40 year anniversary of the first games hooked up to the television. An article on the 1up site tells the story of Ralph Baer, Bill Harrison, and Bill Rusch working at the Sanders Associates company on a little game called Pong. They go into a great deal of detail on the development of the console, going so far as to include a number of the group's original notes on the project. "Baer kept the tiny lab, a former company library in Sanders' early days, locked at all times. Only two men had keys: Baer and Harrison. The room would remain the base of operations for their controversial video experiments for years to come -- experiments that, had they been known about widely at the time, might have garnered intense ridicule from other employees of the prominent defense contractor. Pursuing them was an utterly audacious move."

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117 comments

So this means (2, Funny)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131631)

We REALLY can't trust them now?

Re:So this means (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19131783)

From article:

"so simple even a frog could play them."

Why must article discriminate againt the French ? We are good people. Too much now in the US is anti-French feeling, like "freedom fries". Without France, its hards for US defeat Hitler, and France is a leads computer industry, with programming languages like OCAML, which win most programming contest.

Re:So this means (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19131953)

You have to discriminate against someone, and the Arabs have a better union.

Re:So this means (4, Funny)

YouMakeMeSoANGRY (641079) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132021)

Pong may not require great manual dexterity, but I doubt even it can be played with a chunk of brie in one hand and a white flag in the other.

Re:So this means (3, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132529)

So is Frogger so simple, a vertical white block can play it?

No, but... (1)

pestie (141370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135179)

No, but they do still live in their parents' basement.

SPACEWAR!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19131649)

Wasn't spacewar the first action game...? Ok so there wasn't really a TV...

Re:SPACEWAR!! (4, Informative)

ma6ic (1093905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132783)

Spacewar! was the first action video game created in 1962. It was created to be a demo program and stayed in the lab for the most part, but it did have some of the crucial elements like a controller and competition that we come to know as gaming standards today. I think the Pong article counts console development as the first. Pong is certainly the most famous first video game. Congrats to all the pioneers in the field - quite a business now.

Re:SPACEWAR!! (3, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133033)

I was just about say the same thing. Spacewar was created by students at MIT on a DEC PDP-5 mainframe. They even created a special input device with dials and switches just to control this game. Incidentally, Spacewar was one of my first and favourite games I played on my first computer, the Compaq Deskpro 8086 with 4.33MHz CPU and a 10MB hard drive. For more information on this and other big innovators at the birth of the computer age I cannot sufficiently recommend the fantastic book "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy.

Spacewar on original hardware! (3, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135013)

> I was just about say the same thing. Spacewar was created by students at MIT on a DEC PDP-5 mainframe. They even created a special input device with dials and switches just to control this game.

Nitpick: It was a PDP-1 [brouhaha.com] , one of which has been restored to working order, much to the delight of Spacewar's creators [computerhistory.org] .

But everything else you said was essentially correct, including the homebuilt input device [pdp-1.org] , which consists of five switches laid out in a pattern that anyone who played the coin-op versions of Spacewar and Asteroids will immediately recognize.

Re:Spacewar on original hardware! (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19137473)

Thanks for the correction. I remembered both the PDP-1 and PDP-5 being mentioned in the book but couldn't remember which it was. I took a quick gander at Wikipedia which said the PDP-1 only had printed output so I assumed the latter.

Re:SPACEWAR!! (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19138673)

That's fine, but the summary is quite clear: this is the "40 year anniversary of the first games hooked up to the television."

Otherwise, we'd be talking about how much fun it was to play with the Whirlwind displays.

Re:SPACEWAR!! (2, Informative)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133937)

It depends on how you define videogame. In 1958 Willie Higgenbotham created a demo called "tennis for two" on an occiliscope as something to entertain people taking a tour of Brookhaven National Laboratory. It was a side view of tennis and not a top down view as in Pong. however, no one outside of Brookhaven knoew anything about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_for_Two [wikipedia.org]

Even Ralph Bayer's Odyssey system might not meet some qualifications for videogame since it was an analogue system and not digital.

However, the article says "In May of 1967, the world's first videogames -- as we know them today -- made their quiet, humble entrance into the world.

Re:SPACEWAR!! (1)

ma6ic (1093905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134039)

as we know them today
Damn you ambiguous qualifiers!

Re:SPACEWAR!! (2, Interesting)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135565)

I actually have an old issue of Analog (ca. 1965) with an article by John Campbell which discusses SPACEWAR. The blurb for the story talks about how it's a fascinating game, but ordinary people will never play it because the "gameboard" costs tens of thousands of dollars (back when that was a heckuva lot more money, too)! Even SF writers can fail to see the oncoming rush of progress.

Chris Mattern

I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (3, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131659)

My dad bought us one of the Magnavox Odysseys based on the AY-3-8500 chip. It was all monochrome, and wasn't nearly as cool as an Atari, but I hacked that thing to pieces, replacing pots with different values, adding additional game switches, and having fun.

And now this article comes out.

Jeez, I'm old.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (3, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131813)

I had an Odyssey II. I begged for an Atari, but my dad got me the Odyssey II for Christmas because he thought it would be more powerful with the membrane keyboard. I liked it, but I don't know if it was really any better than Atari.

The thing that got my excited was that they had a computer programming cartridge for it. I had dreams of using the Odyssey II like a home computer, or at least doing some basic programming. In turned out all the cartridge let you do is program about 20 steps in assembly language. The output was limited to about 10 characters. What a let down.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (1)

jlawson382 (1018528) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131865)

We had an Odyssey2, complete with the rudimentary text-to-voice module "The Voice". No one ever knows what I'm talking about when I give my most robotic "That is cor-nect." Ah, good times. Who's up for some Quest for the Rings?

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132001)

Quest for the Rings was a really cool game, and it seemed to be something kinda of unique for the OdysseyII with the keyboard overlay. We also played the Asteroids clone and Pacman clone alot too.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (1)

Namlak (850746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132491)

You mean the original Odyssey with the static-cling TV overlays? Yeah, we had one of those, too! I mostly recall the Simon Says game with the (as I recall) translucent drawings of kids on the screen and you had to move your square to the appropriate clear window on the overlay when that body part was called out. And keeping score on paper!

I know what you mean about being old. My kids would never understand not being able to play their Odyssey on an odyssey in our Odyssey!

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (1)

SoCalEd (842421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133255)

Yup. Static-attached screen overlays (in two different TV sizes for each game, IIRC) and a big box of dice, chips, play-money and other accessories to "enhance" the games. I remember a haunted house themed game where the "ghost" would light up one of the windows in the house or some such. People snicker now, but at the time it was revolutionary.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132799)

My father brought one home too... but I was far to young to consider hacking it or probably even play it competently. I can only remember some light gun game with ghosts and "colorforms" that you stuck on the tv screen.

So yes you are old.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19133411)

You silly young snobs. The Odyssey and Atari were later and for rich kids. In my day, we had the plain beige console-thing with 2 sliders and 4 toggle-switches. You had pong, double-pong, tennis, and hockey -- all just pong variations. Colors?! Forget about it -- black and white, baby!

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134641)

I had an Odyssey II. I also tried to program it cut didn't get much more than a few blocks moving around the screen and I was only 8 or 9 when I actually started messing with it.

I used to love KC's Krazy Chase, Quest for the Rings, as well as the baseball and basketball games. I also used to play some slot machine game, and some other thing I can't remember.

The programming element of it was a bit of a let down. I had no idea what assembly was at the time and was just modifying hex values for no apparent reason to see what they did. (My employer might say that is what I do now.)

I'm going to look into the emulator someone linked above and see what it's all about.

Re:I had a Magnavox Odyssey growing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136613)

Jeez, I'm old.

No fucking way! I was married when Pong came out; a friend of mine had one. I'm a Vietnam era vetran. And even I'm young compared to Ralph, he was in the Navy in WWII! I love visiting Ralph, partly for his war stories but mostly because there are always young (thirtyish) good looking whores over at his house. Note to slashdotters: if you want to get laid, ask your great grandpa where you can find a good whore, he'll know.

I couldn't RTFA as it's still slashdotted an hour and a half later. But it wasn't the first video game at all. I think the first was called "spacewars" and ran on a mainframe (never saw it, this is hearsay from a book) some time in the sixties.

Before Pong came out for a TV it was in the bars. Hell, Pac Man was in the bars when Jeff had his Pong game.

-mcgrew

You can view our Ralph Baer Interviews (5, Informative)

Nick_Allain (997908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131669)

My buddy recently interviewed Ralph Baer at his home in NH. The interviews are online at http://blip.tv/file/158121/ [blip.tv] and http://blip.tv/file/188528/ [blip.tv] . He's definitely an old school computer guy who would take designing circuits over programming any day.

Re:You can view our Ralph Baer Interviews (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19138537)

Since someone else started the pimping... we also had Mr. Baer write a few pages for our book, Business & Legal Primer for Game Development [amazon.com] . He was gracious enough to write for our chapter on "I Wish I Knew..." where he talked about the importance of saving your work when you develop games. Only a few pages, but I thought it was some insightful advice from someone who was there at the dawn of consoles.

Baer Necessities (4, Interesting)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131689)

A lot of people assume Nolan Bushnell started it all, if only because his work was the catalyst that caused the industry to explode in size and value. Both Bushnell and Baer's roles were absolutely essential to birthing the industry.

However painful it may seem, most industries are born of one or more men inventing something truly interesting. However, their first growth spurt comes when someone else copies that invention and popularizes it. This is, in effect, the respective roles of Baer and Bushnell.

I'd encourage people to read the whole article, including the sidebars. It's a great history lesson for a subject dear to us all.

Re:Baer Necessities (4, Funny)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132613)


I'd encourage people to read the whole article,


Will do. Right after I post some comments about the article.

Re:Baer Necessities (2, Interesting)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132675)

However painful it may seem, most industries are born of one or more men inventing something truly interesting. However, their first growth spurt comes when someone else copies that invention and popularizes it. This is, in effect, the respective roles of Baer and Bushnell.

I'm not sure if I agree that the invention has to be copied by someone outside the organization (although this is frequently the case), but I think you are on to something with the rest of your thought. There are two key parts of "birthing an industry":

  1. Creating something new and innovative
  2. Recognizing the potential of the invention and having the vision to build a market for it

Frequently these roles are filled by different types of people. (They require different personalities / skills.) "The Inventor" typically spends all his time "behind the scenes" working on things and keeps a low profile. "The Visionary" typically goes out and "sells" the idea to the public and gets all the press coverage. It's not surprising that the guy who talks to the media is the one people associate with the invention. That's the main reason Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the first names that come to mind when you think about "the personal computer industry". They took products that started as someone's "pet project", saw the potential, and made the right moves to build an industry.

Re:Baer Necessities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134453)

McDonalds brothers and Ray Kroc

Hollerith and Thomas Watson

Jesus and Paul

Bushnell IS the beginner (2, Insightful)

Rosebud128 (930419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136307)

What is harder to make? An invention or a business model? Since there are more working inventions than working business models, it is definately the latter. It is salesmen and entrepreneurs that change the world, not cranky inventors despite whatever mythology one believes. As nerds, we like to think our "intelligence" and "creativity" is the mover and shaker of things. It isn't. This is why I suspect Woz sees himself in Baer.

Bushnell was responsible for making the video-game arcade as well as popularizing the home console. Baer was not. In terms of the beginner of the video-game industry as a working, incredible profitable business, Bushnell is responsible. Bushnell's video-game products SOLD, Baer's video-game products did not. And Baer had the home video-game market completely to himself for many years and still couldn't make it work.

Baer has been suffering sour grapes for a long time. Baer should learn from Steve Russell, the inventor of Spacewar, when he said that, "If I didn't make Spacewar, someone else would. I just happened to get there first." Baer got there first but he (and his company) lacked the ability to sell the product.

The time the article spent trying to 'justify' Baer over Spacewar and Bushnell really indicates how weak Baer's importance is. If you have to base so much of the article on reasons of justification, then that justification probably doesn't exist. Movers and shakers are self-evident and need no lofty defense.

Speaking about beginning the game business, Bushnell could have easily started the PC business. It has to burn him up that Steve Jobs was his employee, that put Jobs underneath his wing, and could have been a major shareholder in Apple. Bushnell could have been Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

But Baer? No. History will remember Baer. But Baer's insistence that he is the fountainhead of video-games is as absurd as Steve Russell saying he is the fountainhead of game arcades. Russell has the humility to admit that he wasn't, that if he didn't make Spacewar than someone else would have. Baer lacks that humility (and while chastizing that Bushnell "stole" his tennis game, he sits the Simon proudly on his desk without telling us where he *really* got that from).

Video game used to teach lesson on .. (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131787)

gambling.

My Father bought us the Atari system and we would play the "Tennis" game. I would bet my allowance and I would win several games. Each time my Dad lost, he would say, "How about double or nothing?"

I would always respond with "Yes!"

All of a sudden, my Dad would become great at video tennis and win. I lost everything, but kept my original allowance. Eventually, I gave up gambling with him and to this day I don't like to gamble. Educated risks, yes, but no gambling.

Re:Video game used to teach lesson on .. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19132415)

i find it rare that i am actually moved by a comment, but yours did just that.. mainly, because things like that don't happen often anymore (real, concrete, needful values taught using technology and videogames as a catalyst).

look at what has become of games?
banal and needlessly vulgar.
i used to be really good at counterstrike (1.4+ and source..).. i mean really good.. good as in admins kicked me constantly under suspicion of cheating. i found maybe 3 people each month that could school me, and when i did, i was awestruck. anyway, i digress. i stopped playing cs because one day my 5 year old sister was behind me, without me knowing it, then i heard her say something to the effect of 'shoot him! kill him!' or something equally as disturbing. i wondered 'how the hell does she have any idea what the object of this game is at her age?'...before that, the only game she had seen me play was mario.

  ive come to the conclusion that we're desensitizing ourselves and our children to violence and vulgarity, and this is something i could have never pictured myself saying even 5 years ago. sure, as 'mature adults' we can play stuff like CS / GTA and clearly distinguish between game life and real life, between what is proper to do in real life, and what is funny to do in videogames (funny, simply because its so far off course with what would be done in real life), however, i do not believe that children are as capable of this advanced level of discernment. it seems as if though we have recreated the roman arena on our screens. sure, people aren't actually dying, but hey, to some degree i bet the spectators didn't consider the gladiators 'people' in the normal sense. (in other words, i bet if a tons of villagers were going about their everyday tasks, and a tiger suddenly appeared and killed one of their fellow villagers, im sure there would have been a sense of grief, loss, and sadness in general amongst them. yet, these same villagers would have cheered on the death of another human to the very same tiger inside of the arena.)

people are quick to become infuriated if someone offers a contradictory opinion to theirs on various topics and quickly say "don't force your opinions on me!", yet, look at what we do to the upcoming generations-- are not all our examples left to inspire, influence, and mold the future generations, for centuries to come, long after our deaths?

Re:Snakes and Arrows (4, Interesting)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132811)

Your point is well taken. What do we do to those children, unthinkingly, and how does it affect the long term future.

I find it similar to the article/essay written by Neal Peart of Rush about their new album, Snakes and Arrows. (Rush is currently #3 on the charts - I never thought I'd see that again! Makes me happy as a big Rush fan!)

Snippet from A Prize Every Time [rush.com]

"...how children are usually imprinted with a particular faith, along with their other early blessings and scars. People who actively choose their faith are vanishingly few; most simply receive it, with their mother's milk, language, and customs. Thinking also of people being shaped by early abuse of one kind or another, I felt a connection with friends who had adopted rescue dogs as puppies, and given them unlimited love, care, and security. If those puppies had been "damaged" by their earlier treatment--made nervous, timid, or worse--they would always remain that way, no matter how smooth the rest of their life might be. It seemed the same for children.

To express that notion, I came up with, "The snakes and arrows a child is heir to/ Are enough to leave a thousand cuts." I thought I was only combining Hamlet's "slings and arrows" with the childhood game "Snakes and Ladders," to make something less clichéd. And indeed, when we were discussing Snakes and Arrows as a possible album title, Geddy remarked, "I like it because it sounds familiar, but isn't."

You are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135393)

"ive come to the conclusion that we're desensitizing ourselves and our children to video game violence and vulgarity"

Fixed that for you.

"however, i do not believe that children are as capable of this advanced level of discernment."

You are wrong, at least according to the mountains of research that exists.

It saddens me that so many people modded you up, as that speaks directly to the type of ignorance that allows factually incorrect opinions such as yours to spread.

The human mind is much more complex than you can understand. I say this not to be an ass, but to emphasize that your laypersons assumptions are based on intuition that is not accurate and that fly in the face of all the research that exists. There are times when what you feel is true is not. This is one of those times.

Re:Video game used to teach lesson on .. (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19138929)

look at what has become of games?

Let me first say that, as a professional video game designer, I generally agree with you. I'd love to see games become more of a positive force instead of reinforcing some of the worst behaviors. But, let me respond to one of the hot-button issues you bring up.

my 5 year old sister [said] 'shoot him! kill him!' or something equally as disturbing.

Would you have been upset if she would have laughed at Elmer Fudd shooting himself in the face with a gun in a cartoon? What if she ran around the room chanting, "Kill the rabbit! Kill the rabbit!"? In reality, most kids around that age do know the difference between fantasy and reality, and watching a cartoon or seeing you play a game is unlikely to encourage your sister to commit serious violence. On the other hand, neither the cartoon nor the game necessarily encourage a healthy respect of firearms.

But, there are systems to inform parents so that they can protect kids from exposure to these types of games. In the U.S., there is a system of ratings [esrb.org] , similar to movie ratings, which give people an idea of the appropriate age that should be playing a game. I will note that if you search for Counter Strike [esrb.org] , you will find that it as an "M" (for Mature) rating, and the recommended age is 17+. Not something most parents (or older brothers) want a young child to see.

So, again, while I agree that it would be nice to see more mature games being developed, I don't think it should only be because of "thinking of the children."

Played my first arcade game in 1972 (2, Insightful)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131857)

I was just a little boy but there was a "Computer Space" arcade game at the Target my family went to in Oklahoma City. Most people just walked right past it but I was fascinated by it, even though I was barely tall enough to press the buttons.

And here we are in 2007 and video games still catch my interest.... :)

Played my LAST arcade game in 1972 (1)

JCOTTON (775912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134397)

Yes, and i think that 1972 was the last time that i played a video game. And smoked my last cigarette. Still drink, though.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that arcade games are a BIG waste of time. I would rather be PROGRAMMING a game than playing one. Same thing for lotto/kino video games. If I wanted to watch random numbers pop up on a screen, I would write a short script myself. I would rather think than mindlessly shoot 'em up. Is this a troll? Then mod me down.

Hello, world.

Re:Played my LAST arcade game in 1972 (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136995)

I must confess the majority of my gaming has been after 72 (seeing as how I'm born in 74...), but I agree wholeheartedly about wanting to *make* games.

Back in the very early 80's my dad worked for Borroughs, and actually I wrote a school paper or two in <ctrl><italic>WordStar>ctrl><italic>. Looking back, I can't believe I had the patience for it! But also on that Burroughs machine, he programmed a banal ascii-art "Ufo" game -- my first ever contact with computer games. The game was so-so, but it was kinda neat that my dad wrote it for me.

Then in the mid-80s, my dad worked for Apple, and we had a Mac. I was convinced that thing was only a boring business machine -- until one night when I cought him playing BreakOut in Macintosh ANSI Pascal v1.0! The very next morning I started my programming career, with nothing but that Pascal program and its two language reference manuals.

Before I made programming my living (yay), I worked in television. During and after that time, I regard television as I do games: it's something you make, not something you use. :)

This isn't fact!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19131889)

Because Jack Thompson decided that Video Games are a NEW threat for our beloved children.

So get you facts straight and don't argue with 40-something fantasy numbers you children-hating-son-of-the-devil!

Praise the lord! See you in court!

Sure, but (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131895)

The first game anybody saw, other than in a lab, was PONG. And that was 1972 IIRC.

Re:Sure, but (1)

Rev Jim (AKA Metal F (1004571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132293)

That was my first memorable experience with gaming. I think for me it was around 1975/76, playing pong with those little controllers that were just a round cylinder you turned back and forth. My uncle pretty much got me into gaming with that and then a couple years later atari 2600 which gave way to interesting me more in computers of the time with the c64, trs80, iie etc. I didn't know the pong game on tvs went back to 72. The 2600 was released in late 77 according to wiki - those games were fun then, but now..yuck ;)

Close to home (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 7 years ago | (#19131917)

I have a personal connection to this story. My Dad worked at Sanders at the time and witnessed Ralph's work. I was born in 1966. It might explain why I am 41 and still a videogame addict.

Re:Close to home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19132357)

Wow, what a difference 3 years can make. I am 38 and a drug addict and always looking for some free lovin'.

Deep Sleep Operatives... (2, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132011)

...contacted. We know that the crystal in your palm has turned black, don't try to run Videogames!

Re:Deep Sleep Operatives... (1)

Teratoma86 (988021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19137825)

Renew! Renew!

The first home version (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132033)

Does anyone remember building the first digital home version out of Popular Electroncs? I remember ordering the circuit board and soldereing the parts that I bought out of electronic mail order catalogs (like DigiKey). We played it for hours at a time.

Asteroids still the best (1)

redshirt1111 (990928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132051)

I got one of the first Atari systems in 1976 or so, but that was my Dad's doing, not mine. However, my life was irrevocably changed the first time I played Asteroids. What a game! And to this day, it maintains a grace and clarity, and complex challenge, that I don't find with any other game. I keep PC versions of the game on every PC I work on. Great stress reliever. That said, I still haven't overcome my bias against The Triangles....

Vector hardware (2, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132473)

Asteroids, on an original arcade machine, is still a great thing to play. I played one a few months ago at the Game On exhibition at London's Science Museum - the intensity of the glows and trails on the screen due to the vector hardware really changed the whole atmosphere.

I still love the raster updates and spent many happy hours on the various PC and Mac ports - Maelstrom in particular, but the original game running on vector hardware is still the version I prefer.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Vector hardware (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19137913)

Me and my friend still have the occasional Asteroids tournaments. He generally wins with around 60,000 pts but it's very good fun. If you run it under Mame you can simulate the flicker, blur, and intensity of the original vector hardware very well. Turn the screen brightness right up and you get a very similar effect to the original with trails and burning phosphor 'bullets'. Cranking up the sound on big speakers helps as well.

Re:Vector hardware (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19138189)

He generally wins with around 60,000 pts but it's very good fun.

I got 20,000 on my first try on the real thing in years at the Science Museum. That was the high score of the day, and I can feel the twelve-year old me staring in utter contempt (I'm 35 - asteroids was already not that new when I started playing).

If you run it under Mame you can simulate the flicker, blur, and intensity of the original vector hardware very well. Turn the screen brightness right up and you get a very similar effect to the original with trails and burning phosphor 'bullets'. Cranking up the sound on big speakers helps as well.

Oh, I do and I agree with you completely. I have a MAME cabinet and an ArcadeVGA [ultimarc.com] so that I can use proper arcade screens with corrected brightnesses instead of computer screens. But even so, games like Asteroids and Star Wars are never quite the same. They had a sit-down Star Wars (vector) machine at the exhibition - now that was some fairly intense action, much more so than when just trying the same game on a raster CRT or normal LCD.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Asteroids still the best (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133961)

When I first saw an Atari Tempest machine at the local arcade, I said "That can't be done", because it looked like color vector graphics and the convergence problems were entirely different than with a TV. I even tried building my own color vector display and was unable to converge the colors. When I was in college around 1984 the arcade there was going out of business so I bought a Tempest machine from them for $300 just to find out how they did it. The arcade machine came with complete schematics, so I was finally able to see how it was done. I still have that machine in my basement and I fire it up every now and then.

Re:Asteroids still the best (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136299)

How did they do it?

mod do3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19132083)

ME! It's ooficial Of 7he above had at lunchtime

Video Games have Changed! (3, Interesting)

Morty Vicar (1102409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132155)

I remember me and my brother spending hours typing code from a computer magazine into our Sinclair Spectrum. After several hours of coding, we were able to watch a ball bounce around the screen and change color when it hit a wall. That's it. But we were blown away! Then we would start again on the next page of coding. Kids these days get bored with several games in less time than it took us to code one screen.

Re:Video Games have Changed! (4, Insightful)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132463)

Yeah, and a starving man will appreciate stale bread whereas I complain at a restaurant if the main course is cold.

Re:Video Games have Changed! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135489)

Kids these days get bored with several games in less time than it took us to code one screen.

But it doesn't mean kids are necessarily harder to amuse, I think it only means it's much more fun to play a game you wrote (even if you didn't understand a thing) than downloading some (not necessarily very entertaining) game and trying it instantly. Compare that to making a cake and buying a cake at the baker's and eating it as soon as you paid.

So I think that what has changed the most, is that firstly we don't have anymore any easy way for kids to type a program and run it (which makes a modern machine with a clean install of the OS boring as hell as an old computer with a BASIC interpreter was actually fun), and then we just wouldn't allow ourselves to do that, because that's an old, outdated activity, that kids have always stayed away from such things and that knowing that we won't even try.

One solution might be to bring easy game making back, in some up-to-date way.. Knowing the OSS community and all that, I don't think anyone out there has the genius and the vision to make that happen.

Alternate first game (3, Interesting)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132217)

I wonder what the first videogame would have been if humans had never invented tennis.

Re:Alternate first game (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132423)

I wonder what the first videogame would have been if humans had never invented tennis.

Raquette ball

Re:Alternate first game (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132493)

I wonder what the first videogame would have been if humans had never invented tennis.

coming soon from atari: ulama [wikipedia.org]

Re:Alternate first game (1)

rleibman (622895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133641)

I saw this game played at the very touristy spot of Xel-ha (near Cancun, Mexico). It is amazingly exciting and fast paced, though they've removed the ancient incentive for the winners to get their head chopped-off. A well made computer game based on it would be very cool to see.

Re:Alternate first game (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133687)

"Catch"?

Re:Alternate first game (3, Funny)

fishybell (516991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133803)

Perhaps a two man soccer gamer with goals as wide as the field? Also, to make the game easier the soccer ball would bounce off of the side walls rather than going out of bounds.

Re:Alternate first game (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134029)

Pong. It was based on ping-pong (hence the name, not tennis).

Human hit ball. Fun-ny. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19134393)

I, for one, welcome our tennis-inventing overlords!

Re:Alternate first game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135435)

whatever the second game was

Major reason of Oddesy Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19132227)

It is not mentioned in this article (that I could find), but one of the reasons the Odyssey failed to meet expectations was the device was given a marketing campaign that was centered around the Magnavox company and televisions. Magnavox was trying to imply that a Magnavox television was required. Not a smart thing to do when there was already similar devices on the market that were not "Magnavox" specific.

The good ol' days (0)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132385)

I pine for the days where game developers actually had imaginative and interesting new ideas. Look at any video game store today, or any list of the top selling games, and all you will see are sequels, expansion packs, and "brand extension" titles.

How many more fucking Tom Clancy Rainbow Sixes do we really need? Another Command And Conquer?? Final Fantasy XIXXI Super Mega Ultra Neon Advance? SimCity 50000?

Rule of thumb: If the video game's title has a number or a colon (:) in it, it's probably unimaginative pap.

Re:The good ol' days (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19132627)

I for one am eager to welcome Final Fantasy XXX.

Re:The good ol' days (2, Insightful)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132663)

There was also a lot - and I mean a LOT of chaff. First there were a million space-shooters that were clones of Space Invaders, Galaxian and Galaga. Then there were Maze-Games galore. Each winning game had sequals - lots of them in the case of games like Asteroids. And oh yes - plenty of games that sucked. I collect games and the most rabid contingent is the Laser-Disc game group and 90 percent of those games were terrible.

Re:The good ol' days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19133139)

Your arguement is based off the fact that it's "the same old crap with a different title". In what way is FFXII the same as FFVI? Same exact storylines? Same kind of characters? Does that mean that Squaresoft has been out of idea's since the mid 80's? Or is it because making video game sequels sound the same as movie sequels is apples and oranges to begin with. The only reason "the good ol' days of video games" were such was because there wasn't anything made yet. Wanna make a vector game of shooting stuff climbing up a pipe? Hey! Let's call it Tempest! Wanna make a game about a frog crossing a street? Hey! This frogger game is incredible! A single ship shooting alien space ships? Hey! Let's call it Galaga! Or Space Invaders!

The reason why there are 100 different versions of Rainbow Six? Maybe because that's what people want. There's a good reason we never see sequels to Pong or Galaga or Frogger.

Re:The good ol' days (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134577)

hmmm ... Pong 3D

Re:The good ol' days (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135731)

The reason why there are 100 different versions of Rainbow Six? Maybe because that's what people want. There's a good reason we never see sequels to Pong or Galaga or Frogger.
No Pong Sequels [rockstargames.com] ?

There were probably more Galaga knock-offs than sequels to any modern game, and I think 3 Frogger titles plus countless knockoffs.

People "want" the 74th version of Rainbox Six because no one has invented better yet. Once someone does, the next generation will be cluelessly whining about "there's a good reason there were no sequels to Rainbow Six".

And, yes, all the (recent) Final Fantasy games are basically the same: a movie where you have to work to unlock each scene, plus chocobos when you get tired of that for a while. Different movies, but same game.

Re:The good ol' days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19137115)

Myth II: Soulblighter was comparable to Myth I (some ways better, some ways worse). Marathon: Infinity was much better than Marathon. GG Shinobi II was comparable to GG Shinobi. Doom II was far better than Doom. Silent Hill 2 is comparable to Silent Hill (like the Myths, some ways better, some ways worse). Prince of Persia II: The Shadow and the Flame was better than Prince of Persia. Mechwarrior II was far superior to Mechwarrior. Freespace 2 was far superior to Freespace. Descent 2 was comparable to Descent. I can go on for days.

Pong TV (5, Interesting)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132435)

First system I had back in 76 was a Odyssey 300 Pong system. Interesting thing at the time, the RF adapters back then were wholesale FCC fraud (something in common with Apple's first RF modulators). Basically, no FCC violations occured - until the consumer hooked them up. We were living south of St. Louis in St. Genevive MO at the time where to pull in TV - you had to have a very tall tv antenna. Once that system was hooked up - we were spraying PONG TV on channel 3 to the entire town - or a sizable portion of it from our 2 story high aerial.

I didn't discover this until kids were asking me in school "who was on the left". I replied that was my brother. "He was kicking your ASS last night dude". I replied "wait - you weren't around yesterday - hell I didn't even know you knew I had a system!". After he told me he was watching us on tv I rode after school on my bike - several miles from my house - to his and wached my Odyssey (which I left on) beaming in crystal-clear to his tv.

I have no idea what our ratings were, but given the state of mid 70s television - I wouldn't be surprised if our audience-share wasn't substantial.

Dude!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19133359)

You invented the Internet!

really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19133791)

PONG TV? Did that really happen? I'm not calling you a liar, I'm just wondering if this was a widespread thing? I don't ever remember mention of this anywhere...

Re:really (2, Informative)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136391)

Yes - RF adapters were pretty - um - leechy. The reason the signal spewed up the 3 story tower (2 stories over the height of the house) was because we screwed down the flat leads to the RF box on top of the flat leads coming in from the tower mating the two lines basically.

As a post-script, a similar thing happened with my Atari 7800 in college when I was throwing clear images of channel 3 to my neighbors - through cinderblock walls - clear as a bell. It didn't interfere with chanell 3 signals being piped from other student's VCRs but one reported seeing my game action when they were getting ready to watch a movie.

Re:Pong TV (1)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134683)

That may be one of the coolest stories I've ever heard.

Re:Pong TV (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134761)

FCC part 15 rules appeared in the late 70's because of the emergence of digital devices spewing TV interference. Note that it has always been and still is the equipment operator's responsibility not to cause interference. The manufacturer just has to test that it meets limits and label the equipment.

Inaccurate summary (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133165)

"An article on the 1up site tells the story of Ralph Baer, Bill Harrison, and Bill Rusch working at the Sanders Associates company on a little game called Pong."

Um, Baer & co didn't develop "Pong". They developed a generic tennis game that was similar to Pong, which was developed by Bushnell & co. Sure, they got the basic idea from Baer, but they made it their own (for example, more detailed graphics, on-screen scoring). If I remember the videos I've seen correctly, Baer's version allowed you to move your paddle towards and away from the net, unlike Pong.

Re:Inaccurate summary (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19138621)

Agreed. Years ago they were showing what's my line re-runs on GAME, and they showcased Baer and his console. It was very spartan and the paddles were only slightly larger than the ball. Even less sound than Pong - if you can imagine that - and the controllers (and the control scheme) looked horrible people playing were having trouble making simple moves. Yech.

Earlier (4, Interesting)

kreuzotter (13645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19133703)

Here is one from 1958:
http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/history/higinbotham.asp [bnl.gov]

Re:Earlier (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19134825)

"the 40 year anniversary of the first games hooked up to the television"

an oscilloscope is not a television.

Re:Earlier (1)

dparnass (1004755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136105)

But it is a Cathode Ray Tube like most Televisions are.

Random (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19133859)

I can see the birthplace of video games from my bedroom window.

First videogame moment (1)

My name is Bucket (1020933) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135215)

My earliest memory of playing video games is the Atari 2600. My parents bought it for us kids, so we had to have a good selection of multiplayer games. Warlords was probably the preferred game. My little sister had barely learned how to walk and we were shoving the paddle in her hand because we needed a 4th player.

When we moved to the new house, the Atari moved to my brother's room, hooked up to his brand-new 13" COLOR TV. Every other morning, I'd sneak into his room at 5AM to try to finish Indiana Jones or Tutankhamen. Most of the time I'd end up waking him up and he'd chase me out. I never did beat those games, though...

Spacewar -- 1962 on PDP-1 (1)

unics (741003) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136503)

Take a look at this: http://www3.sympatico.ca/maury/games/space/spacewa r.html [sympatico.ca]

Long live DEC!

mod dOwn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136913)

are about 7000/5 OS. Now BSDI is

40 Years Is Not Very Long (2, Interesting)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19137659)

40 years is not very long for what has transpired between the early video games and modern video games. Video games are sort of the representative tip of the iceberg in computing technology . Aside from some super computer applications and the like, video games often represent computer hardware taken to the limits of simulation of some internally consistent model, from the bizarre (2D Mario worlds) to the more realistic (3D FPS with more accurately modeled physics). MMOGs (and MUDs before them) have traced the capabilities of networks, with Second Life, for all its wrinkles, probably best (or poorly, as the actual user experience may be) excercising the networking envelope because of it's just-in-time content streaming and server multiplexing.

Of course, that doesn't mean that modern video games are any more enjoyable than Pong and the earlier games, which almost have an advantage in that the only thing they could focus on was gameplay, but it does show an impressive advancement along the technical curve. With that curve tending upwards and advancement getting faster, it's fun to imagine what the next 40 years will bring.

YOU FAiL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19137837)

and 40 years later I'm still saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19138103)

I'll be down for dinner soon! I'm almost done with this level!

milnus 4, troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19138435)

vitality. Like an BSD has always giG in front of Fucking perrcent of Darren Reed, which = 1400 NetBSD

PONG (1)

vinividivici (919782) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140143)

A couple of years back, I did an interview over the web with Ralph H. Baer. He was VERY clear that he didn't create PONG, but a similar game called Ping Pong. It consisted of a green field with two paddles that had changeable angles. It was also a great deal more difficult and faster moving than PONG.
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