Video Game Industry Timeline: 1958 - 1974

  • 1958
    • Physicist Willy Higinbotham invents the first "video game" at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. His game, a table tennis-like game, was played on an oscilloscope.
  • 1961
    • Steve Russell, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), creates Spacewar, the first interactive computer game. It runs on a Digital PDP-1 mainframe computer, and the graphics are made up of ASCII text characters.
  • 1966
    • Ralph Baer, an engineer at Sanders Associates, receives support from his company (a military electronics consulting firm in NH) to explore his idea of creating interactive games using a television.
  • 1967
    • Baer and team are successful in creating two interactive TV games—a chase game and a tennis game. They are also able to manipulate a toy gun so that it detects spots of light on the TV screen.
  • 1970
    • Magnavox licenses Baer's TV game from Sanders Associates
    • Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney (future founders of Atari) begin their attempt to create an arcade version of Spacewar, calling it Computer Space.
  • 1971
    • Computer Space becomes first video arcade game ever released. 1500 games are distributed. Public consensus is that it is too difficult to play.
  • 1972
    • April 25th - A U.S. patent is issued to Ralph Baer for "A Television Gaming Apparatus and Method".
    • May 24th - Magnavox's Odyssey, the first home video game system, is showcased at a convention in Burlingame, CA, and is released to the public in the fall later that year.
    • Bushnell and Dabney found Atari. They name the company after a term from the Japanese game "Go". "Atari" is equivalent to "check" in a chess game.
    • Al Alcorn is hired by Atari to program video games. The first game created by Atari is Pong. Ping-Pong, the original name, is already copyrighted, so the makers name it Pong after the sound of a ball hitting the paddle.
Continue to 1975 - 1984...
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