In our previous post, part one of this two-part series, we took a look at the early days of video arcade games — the 40s and 50s. Most notably, the foundation was laid for future generations of video games. Cathode Ray Tubes, or CRTs, are an essential component of any video game. Interestingly enough, the underlying technology was first used in missile defense systems in the 40s, only to be repurposed for video games in later decades. As time wore on, the earliest tubes grew to be more complex, which in turn meant better graphics and general gameplay.
Now that we’ve reviewed a bit, let’s look at the middle history of video games. But before we do, a quick disclaimer: this is far, far away from being a comprehensive review of everything that has taken place from the dawn of video games to the present day. We simply want to shine the proverbial spotlight on a few notable happenings, along with a few of our favorite historical factoids related to the topic at hand. That being said, let’s get going!
Not too much of note happened in the 60s, from our vantage point at least. One event worth mentioning is that Steve Russell, of MIT, invented a computer-based space combat video game called Spacewar!. This was the very first video game that could be played on numerous computers, which is pretty dang neat if you ask us.
The 70s were an exciting time in our industry if for no other reason than this was the decade that saw the very first home console originate. Backtracking a few years to 1967, Ralph Baer, known as the Father of Video Games, developed a prototype multiplayer video game system that could be played on a television. This original console, which could also host multiple programs (games), was known simply as “The Brown Box.” Once Magnavox bought the licensing rights to the console, it was commercially distributed as the Odyssey in 1972.
Though the Odyssey and its rudimentary functionality would quickly fade from popularity, one of its games served as inspiration for Atari’s Pong game, which, as most of our readers should know, is the first arcade video game. Interestingly, Magnavox ended up suing Atari for copyright infringement. Atari eventually settled, with Magnavox winning over $100 million in copyright damages that had to do with the Odyssey.
The decade rounded out with nothing less than a boon of milestones: Nintendo created Donkey Kong, Japan introduced the United States to wildly successful Pac-Man, and Space Invaders was released as an arcade in 1978.