Monday, 25 October 2010

Computer Game History: Origins Edition (1950s-1970s)

It was inevitable that with the growth of computer technology and being able to program, create and manipulate equations and data, soon computer games would form. Everybody needs some entertainment of course. It just took a few experts or risk-takers in the industry to explore this. From general knowledge, obviously to create a computer game would be to create an interface with controls specifically for that game and have it displayed on a TV or monitor etc. History can be confusing and other points may argue that what I may be defining is flawed. This is just my discovery of what I believe are relevant points that interest me.

So from sources I can gather, computer game origin lied in cathode ray-tube missile defence programs originally developed for military and academic purposes which make sense as, to learn, simulations can be a perfect training procedure before attempting the real thing. At this point, ‘games’ or ‘entertainment’ did not come into this but after not too long, it did. Apparently it began with a TV engineer called Ralph Baer, given a simple of task creating the best TV in the world but instead wanted to take this further to playing games on this TV. After refusal from his boss in 1951, he returned in 1966 to focus his attention on building the first video games. Let’s leave him and his ambitions there for a bit shall we?

There is not a major explanation of how they were developed but one of the first most significant computer games in the limelight was ‘spacewar’ in 1962 which many sources state. To run this spectacular game took a spectacularly large car sized PDP-1 computer. Then in came Ralph Baer of Magnavox in 1972 to release the first commercial video game console The Odyssey, containing 12 simple and sport related games. He decided to escalate this and create a light gun expansion known as Shooting Gallery.

However there was ‘Pong’ the first commercial arcade game in 1972 built by Atari, cofounded by Bushnell. Later in 1975 Pong was re-released as a home video game. Before then, a major boom of random developers tried to mimic and improve on Pong as home video game entertainment became more popular in 1973 in the USA, then when it arrived at homes in Europe around 1974.

Most of what was released lasted about as long as it would take the flu virus to clear up yet I guess it was rather interesting seeing what was forged by all these developers that had potential. The main point is that from the 1950s in which computers were large in size have now greatly reduced in the space of 20 years to the size of being able to fit in homes all over. Computer and video games became an alternative to just watching your TV, except you could get involved and play away from the arcade experience. One good point a website made is that because of this, games could be developed to last longer than a quick multiplayer game and that is where my next section in the task will basically take us, as games and technology evolve and focus more on home and personal entertainment. Until then, have yourself nice a cup of tea.

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