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INTRODUCTION - The Video Game Industry Today, What It Takes To Work In The Video Game Industry

computer system console pong

The first interactive computer game was created in 1961 by an MIT student named Steve Russell. The game was called Spacewar, and it was coded by Russell on a minicomputer known as the Digital PDP-1 (or Programmed Data Processor-1). Unlike most computers today, the Digital PDP-1 did not have an internal hard drive. Instead, it received all of its information from “paper tape,” a long, thin strip of paper filled with tiny holes.

In 1971, Nolan Bushnell (who would later go on to create the Atari company) released Computer Space, the first coin-operated computer arcade game the world had ever seen. Like Spacewar, Computer Space involved a small spaceship struggling to survive in a hostile outer-space environment. However, the game was commercially unsuccessful as many people considered it to be too complicated.

The year 1972 saw the world's first console gaming system, the Odyssey. It was designed by Ralph Baer and manufactured by Magnavox. The black-and-white visuals produced by the console were augmented by colorful plastic overlays designed to stick onto one's television screen in order to simulate color graphics. The games on the Magnavox Odyssey (Tennis, Ski, and Simon Says, to name a few) ran completely silent, employing no audio track or sound effects.

The aptly named Pong, also released in 1972, derived its name in part from the game Ping-Pong and in part from the sound effects found in the game. Pong is considered the world's first commercially successful coin-operated computer arcade game. In 1976, Atari released the home console version of Pong. The console system came with two paddle-shaped controllers and played only one game: Pong.

In 1986, Nintendo, a Japanese company, released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) worldwide. The system went on to sell more than half a million units in its first two months. Nintendo's home console system boasted 8-bit graphics and a cast of soon-to-be iconic characters such as Mario, Luigi, Link, Zelda, and Donkey Kong. The NES was a major turning point in the history of video games, signaling to the world that video games could be commercially successful and culturally significant.

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