Friday, 12 October 2007

Week 2: A history of computer games 1950s-1970s

Where did it all start then? Well, back in 1951, a young engineer was given an assignment to build a television set, one that would be the best. This engineer was named Ralph Baer, and he had the idea of incorporating a game into the set itself. He wasn't sure what kind of game he wanted to produce, but it didn't matter because his managers scrapped the concept. It would take another 18 years for his concept to take form.

In 1954 a US Korean War veteren by the name of David Rosen saw the popularity of mechanical coin-op games on a US Army base, and so started a company called Service Games to export these to Japan. In the 1960s he decided to purchase a Tokyo jukebox and slot machine company to make his own games with. The name SEGA, short for 'SErvice GAmes' was stamped on all of his products, and was eventually adopted as the company name.

1958 proved interesting when physicist Willy Higinbotham invented a table-tennis game displayed on a oscilloscope. Whoever said that science was boring! He later ran it on a 15inch monitor...but didnt patent it. I bet he was pissed when he found out it's now worth $58 billion.

In 1961, MIT student steve russle created Spacewar, the first interactive computer game. played on a CTR screen with new teletype terminals.

So back to Ralph Baer and his idea of using a television to play games on. He decided, in 1966 to continue researching it, and developed a chase game and followed it up with a tennis game. Wierd choice of sequel if you ask me. He finally patented the idea in 1968 and gets it licensed by Magnavox, to create an arcade version of spacewar in 1970! Well that only took 20 years.

When did it start for me then? Well the christmas of 1994, I was going to ask father christmas for a Jurassic Park compund! Being a Jurassic Park nut, having all the toys and watching the film about twice a week, this was the mother of all toys! My dad on the other hand had the bizzare idea that I should ask 'Father Christmas' for a Super Nintendo. A super what? Donkey who? As far as I was concerned, having my T-rex break the walls down on a compound, reek havok and eat people was never going to be surpassed by a gorilla collecting bananas on a tv!

But my dad was adamant, and since I knew he had some pritty serious connections to Father Christmas I trusted his judgement, and boy was I glad. Donkey Kong Country was my first ever game, and what a first game to have. I personally, still, think it's the single greatest platformer ever made.

So from now on, whenever my dad "Do you think a career in games is a good idea?" I can simply turn round an say "well I'd have been an paleontologists if it wern't for you!"


Michael Powell said...

heh, nice one dad. bet he;s sorry now!

Leathal_brows said...

Interesting theory, 'you are what you get for Christmas'....

I guess too many people got Barbies, and thats why we are swamped with fashion students...

DrawingDreams said...

"well I'd have been an paleontologists if it wern't for you!"

OMG LMFAO. Hilarious!