Tuesday, 2 November 2010

History of Games 1950-1970

Computer Games were founded on the invention of computers, it wasn’t long after the first computer system were produced that there capacity for entertainment developed. Most Computers at the time consisted of large rooms and mechanical parts for military and large corporate businesses. It wasn’t in till a device called the Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device was patented in the United States in 1948 that allowed an imaged to be produced on screen when electrons were passed through a vacuum into a Fluorescent screen. The idea contained this device with knobs that allowed a missiles course and curvature to be adjusted. Because computer graphics had not yet been produced a overlay was put onto the screen to simulate targets. This could be understood as the first attempt at creating a computer game. However it wasn’t in till the 1970’s that computer games developed into something that could be played commercially and interactively. Games had been produced in this intermittent period however they could be produced within normal means, with games such as Tic Tac Toe and Draughts.

The first computer game wasn’t developed in till 1961, when students at MIT programmed a game titled Spacewar! on the DEC PDP-1, a new, advanced computer at the time. The game consisted of two human players against each other, each controlling a spacecraft capable of firing missiles. Whilst a star in the center of the screen created a hazard to avoid when playing. Spacewar! Was then distributed with new DEC computers and traded throughout the early internet. Spacewar! Is considered the first computer game in that it allowed human players to play an interactive game through a computer system that couldn’t be produced in the non-virtual world, whilst be widely available on smaller more modern home computers.

In 1966 Ralph Baer rekindled the idea of an interactive video games machine; they used military grade computers to create a simple video game called Chase. The first computer game to be displayed through a standard television set. With the assistance of Baer, Bill Harrison created the light gun “a device used for aiming” and developed several video games with Bill Rusch in 1967. They managed to produce a system that could run several different games on it and by 1969, Sanders was showing off the world’s first home video game console to manufacturers. 1970 is coined as the golden age of computer games where they truly developed into games consoles and arcade machines. I use coined, as the first coin operated game was produced at Stanford university in 1971 called Galaxy Game. Also in 1971 Spacewar! Was produced as a coin operated arcade game and renamed Computer Space. 1,500 units were sold and released during this year. The game failed commercially because of its steep learning curved however it was the first computer game to be mass produced and sold, paving the way for later releases.

The first home computer system was developed from 1966 to 1968 by Ralph Baer and associates. The licensing was eventually brought by Magnavox and was released in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey. The Odyssey used primitive cartridges to allow the user to play several games with the same system by using different overlays. The Console also got a boost as Frank Sinatra starred in TV ads, which allowed sales of 100,000. This can be considered the beginnings of games consoles being considered a key media asset and money maker. Philips bought Magnavox and released a different game in Europe, using the Odyssey brand in 1974 with a new game that Magnavox had been developing for the US market. Over its production span, the Odyssey system achieved sales of 2 million units. With the advent of Home computers, hobbyists found that they could program on there own and software and games quickly developed. The end of the 1970’s also saw the development of second generation games consoles, such as the Atari 2600. This quickly became the most popular of early consoles. Each game was produced entirely by one programmer because production of these games was still a very niche skill, which would later changed as there popularity and money making potential expanded.

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