Inventors Of The Modern Computer
Spacewar: The First Computer Video Game
I hadn't done it, someone would've done something equally exciting if not
better in the next six months. I just happened to get there first."
- Steve Russell
was in 1962 when a young computer programmer from MIT, Steve Russell (fueled
with inspiration from the writings of E.
E. "Doc" Smith*), created the first computer video game. Russell wrote
his game on a PDP-1, an early DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) "interactive"
mini computer which used a cathode-ray
tube type display and keyboard input. The computer was a donation to
MIT from DEC, who hoped MIT's think tank would be able to do something
remarkable with their product. A game called "Spacewar" was the last thing
PDP-1's operating system was the first to allow multiple users to share
the computer simultaneously. This was perfect for playing Spacewar, which
was a two-player game involving warring spaceships firing photon torpedoes.
a replica** of the game for yourselves. It still holds today up as
a great way to waste a few hours.] By the mid-sixties, when computer time
was still very expensive, Spacewar could be found on nearly every research
computer in the country.
More on the origin of Spacewar - the joystick nation - DEC PDP-1 -
Digital Equipment Corporation - the history of video games
*An interesting sidenote is that
"Doc" Smith, besides being a great science fiction writer,
held a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and was the researcher who figured
out how to get powdered sugar to stick to doughnuts.
**Spacewar! was conceived
in 1961 by Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen. It was first
realized on the PDP-1 in 1962 by Stephen Russell, Peter Samson, Dan Edwards
and Martin Graetz, together with Alan Kotok, Steve Piner and Robert A.
Saunders. Spacewar! is in the public domain, but this credit paragraph
must accompany all distributed versions of the program.
|Inventors Of The Modern Computer
Computer Mouse and Windows
all artwork ©MaryBellis