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Welcome to pongmuseum.com - January 27, 2009

 

pongmuseum.com - And the ball was square...

 

The museum is officially opened to the public - today on the 27 January 2009 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the video ping-pong and the birthday of the Magnavox Odyssey 37 years ago. Any informations, inputs, contributions or anything related to Pong systems will be greatly appreciated - please contact us.

 

In 1966, Ralph H. Baer came up with the concept of a "television gaming apparatus." This device included both a chase game and a video tennis game, and could be attached to a normal television set. There were about 40 million TV sets in the US homes alone in 1966, to say nothing of many more millions of TV sets in the rest of the world. They were literally begging to be used for something other than watching commercial television broadcasts!

 

An email from Ralph H. Baer - January 26, 2009

 

Hello Oliver,

 

this may be the 37th birthday of the Magnavox Odyssey game but it's also the 40th birthday of the video ping pong. It might be nice if you included the short video of Bill Harrison and me playing ping-pong back in 1969, which I am attaching.

Good luck with your new site,

 

Ralph H. Baer

 

I am proud to present the video on the museums index page, later it can be found in the History section.

Now - have fun in the pong museum - many pong consoles and historic informations will follow!

Please sign up to the RSS Feed to be up to date.

 

Today I will have a nice Pong session on the Brown Box that is located in the Computerspiele Museum Berlin.

 

Yours, Oliver - Curator

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The site looks great! I like the pictures you've taken--you even have shots of the bottom of the units, which you don't see very often. :)

 

Thanks for the link to AtariAge, much appreciated. I'll post some news about your site to the front page here in a day ro two.

 

..Al

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Site looks great! One suggestion: you should include a little bit about "Tennis For Two" - created in 1957 by Wally Higginbotham at the Brookhaven National Lab. It's Pong's spiritual ancestor...I think someone put up a video of it on YouTube recently.

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Please have a look to http://pongmuseum.com/history/ there is an article about William Higinbotham and Tennis for Two. Sure the discussion starts again, who invented what first :-)

 

I will also add some info about OXO, Nimrod, the Managementgae and so on - but as time comes by ;-)

 

 

Hello, That is what I mean. I read the William Higginsbotham article, and there it says: "the first computer game", which is not right. It was the FIRST tennis, aka Pong game, but NOT first computer game. The NIMROD computer was 6 years earlier.

 

Here is a quote from your Pong site:

 

The Beginnings of Computer Games

Author: David Ahl

Date: 1987

Original Source

 

The First Computer Game

The first computer game was developed in 1957 by William Higinbotham at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This is not widely known, and has not been widely written up, but I do know that some of the current games writers saw it and were influenced by it.

 

The author David Ahl is wrong.

Edited by frenchman
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Interesting that most of the early develoments in digital computing happened in the UK ....Collosus, the worlds first digital computer (Alan Turing/John Von Neumann), Manchesters 'baby' (F C Williams and Tom, Kilburn) the first digital computer to run/execute a stored program, as well as being the first to demo 'computer music', and now the Nim computer by Ferranti (first computer to run a computer game)

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Hi, this article seems to be quite correct:

 

http://wapedia.mobi/en/Video_Game

 

The formative years of video games consist of basic games that made use of interactive electronic devices with various display formats. The earliest example was in 1947, where the idea for a "Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device" was conceived by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The two filed for a patent on January 25, 1947, which was issued on December 14, 1948 as U.S. Patent 2455992. Inspired by radar displays, it consisted of an analog device that allowed a user to control a vector drawn dot on the screen to simulate a missile being fired at targets represented by drawings fixed to the screen. Other examples included the NIMROD computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain, Alexander S. Douglas's OXO for the EDSAC in 1952, William Higinbotham's interactive game called Tennis for Two in 1958, and MIT students Martin Graetz, Steve Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen's Spacewar! in 1961 on a DEC PDP-1 computer.

 

Each game used different means of display: NIMROD used a panel of lights to play the game of Nim, OXO used a graphical display to play tic-tac-toe, Tennis for Two used an oscilloscope to display a side view of a tennis court, [1] and Spacewar! used the DEC PDP-1's vector display to have two spaceships battle each other.

 

In 1971, Computer Space, created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game. For its display it used a black-and-white television and the computer system was a state machine made of 74 series TTL chips. Computer Space was followed in 1972 by the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home console. Modeled after a late 1960s prototype console developed by Ralph H. Baer called the "Brown Box", it also used a standard television and game generated video signal. [1] These systems were followed by two versions of Atari's Pong; an arcade version in 1972 and a home version in 1975. The commercial success of Pong led other companies to develop numerous Pong-clones and their own systems, spawning the video game industry.

 

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The word video in video game traditionally referred to a raster display device. However, with the popular use of the term "video game", it now implies any type of display device.

 

The electronic systems used to play video games are known as platforms; examples of these are personal computers and video game consoles. These platforms are broad in range, from large computers to small handheld devices. Specialized video games such as arcade games, while previously common, have gradually declined in use.

 

The input device normally used to manipulate video games is called a game controller, which varies across platforms. For instance, a dedicated console controller might consist of only a button and a joystick, or feature a dozen buttons and one or more joysticks.

 

Early personal computer based games historically relied on the availability of a keyboard for gameplay, or more commonly, required the user to purchase a separate joystick with at least one button to play.[citation needed] Many modern computer games allow the player to use a keyboard and mouse simultaneously.

 

I aslo have my problems with the article by Ahl (only parts of a speach) because he did not mentioned Bear and Tennis for Two.

I think I look for a more accurat article about the issue- does someone knows a good article about the beginning of VGI in general?

Edited by pongmuseum
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ohoh... I need to check, I think the Z1 by Zuse had no display - but despite that this would be the first computer game (1942/45).

 

http://www.zib.de/zuse/Inhalt/Programme/Pl...Chess/chess.htm

 

The first chess program was written by the German inventor Konrad Zuse (between 1942 / 1945) as just an example of the expressive power of his "Plankalkül", a high-level programming language that he developed from 1942 to 1945. The program was never implemented and the code was not published until 1972.

 

Therefore, the privilege of being considered the "father" of computer chess is usually assigned to the American mathematician Claude Shannon, who in two articles published in 1950 described how to program a computer to play the game. Shannon distinguished between a Type A strategy, in which all combinations of moves (the own and the opponent's) are examined up to a maximum depth level, and a type B strategy in which only promising branches of the tree of possibilities are further expanded. Early computer chess programs applied a type A strategy, although in 1951 Alan Turing, the British computer pioneer, specified a program to play chess that tried to follow preferably those branches in which a piece is captured.

You can have a game against the Zuse Chess program here (you can see it calculate...)

http://www.zib.de/zuse/Inhalt/Programme/Pl...plet/chess.html

 

Konrad Zuse began work on Plankalkul (plan calculus), the first algorithmic programming

language, with an aim of creating the theoretical preconditions for the formulation of problems of a

general nature. Seven years earlier, Zuse had developed and built the world's first binary digital computer, the

Z1. He completed the first fully functional program-controlled electromechanical digital

computer, the Z3, in 1941. Only the Z4 – the most sophisticated of his creations -- survived World War II.

 

http://www.csee.umbc.edu/331/fall05/notes/pdf/02history.pdf

 

The Z1 (replicated) in Berlin Technical Museum:

 

799px-Zuse_Z1-2.jpg

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Pongmusuem....I think the information about Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann 'noughts and crosses'game'might be incorrect, as that predates the development of Manchester's 'baby' in 1948 (manchester's 'baby' being the first digital computer to run/execute a computer program)...what 'might' have happened is that Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann devised a hand written program (not yet coded on a computer) for a computerised 'noughts and crosses' game and once patent had been secured/acquired they then proceeded to coding the game on a computer (which isn't the same as writing the program straight to computer)

 

Remembering ofcourse that before the development of CPU's, computing time was very expensive so most 'programmers' hand wrote the code before commiting it to computer to save on computing time

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...what 'might' have happened is that Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann devised a hand written program (not yet coded on a computer) for a computerised 'noughts and crosses' game and once patent had been secured/acquired they then proceeded to coding the game on a computer (which isn't the same as writing the program straight to computer)...

 

Dear Carmel,

 

"The two filed for a patent on January 25, 1947, which was issued on December 14, 1948 as U.S. Patent 2455992"

because an invention is normaly dated with the patent it was invented in 1947/48 (in my opinion).

 

greetings,

Edited by pongmuseum
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http://searchwarp.com/swa355023.htm

 

The question was: Which was the first video game ever made?

 

The answer: Well, as a lot of things in life, there is no easy answer to that question. It depends on your own definition of the term "video game". For example: When you refer to the term "the first video game", do you mean the first video game that was commercially-made, or the first console game, or maybe the first digitally programmed game? Because of this, I made a short list of video games that in one way or another were the beginners of the video gaming industry. You will notice that these original video games were not created with the idea of making them profitable (back in those years there was no Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Sega, Atari, or any other video game company in existence). Actually, the sole idea of a "video game" or an electronic mechanism which only purpose was "playing games and having fun" was impossible to conceive by more than 99% of the population of that era. But thanks to this small group of innovators who walked the first steps into the video gaming revolution, we can enjoy many hours of fun and entertainment today (keeping aside the creation of millions of jobs during the past 4 or 5 decades). Without further ado, here are the "first video game nominees":

1940s: Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device

 

This is considered (with official documentation) as the first electronic game device ever manufactured. It was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The device was developed in the 1940s and submitted for an US Patent by January 1947. The patent was granted December 1948, which also makes it the first electronic game system to ever receive a patent (US Patent 2,455,992). As described in the patent, it consisted of an analog circuit device with an array of knobs used to control a dot that showed in the cathode ray tube display. The video game was created after how missiles appeared in WWII radars, and the object of the game was simply to control a "missile" that should hit a target. In the 1940s it was extremely difficult (for not saying impossible) to show graphics in a Cathode Ray Tube display. So, only the actual "missile" was showed on the display. All other graphics including the target were showed on screen overlays manually placed over the display screen. It is rumored that this gaming device was the inspiration of Atari's famous video game "Missile Command".

1951: NIMROD

 

NIMROD was the name of a digital computer device from the 50s decade. The designers of this computer were the engineers of an UK-based enterprise called Ferranti, with the purpose of displaying the computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain (and after some time it was also presented in Berlin).

 

NIM is a two-player numerical game of strategy, which is believed to come originally from the ancient China. NIM game rules are simple: There are a certain number of "heaps" (groups of objects), and each group contains a certain number of objects (a usual starting array of NIM is 3 heaps containing 3, 4, and 5 objects each). Each player remove objects from the heaps in turns, but all removed objects must be from a single heap and the amount of removed objects is not 0. The player to take the last object of the last heap is the loser, but there is a variation of the game where the player to take the last object of the last heap is the winner.

 

NIMROD used a panel full of lights as a display and was designed and made with the sole purpose of playing a game called NIM, which makes it the first digital computer device to be designed exclusively for playing a game (however the main idea was to show and illustrate how a digital computer works, rather than as a way of entertainment and having fun). Because it doesn't have "raster video equipment" as a display (a TV set, monitor, etc.) it's been said that it does not qualify as a real "video game" (an electronic game, yes… a video game, no…). But once again, it really depends on your point of view when you talk about a "video game".

 

1952: OXO ("Noughts and Crosses")

 

OXO was a computer-programmed version of "Tic-Tac-Toe", created for an EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) computer. It was designed by Alexander S. Douglas from the University of Cambridge, and once again it was not made for entertainment, it was part of his PhD Thesis on "Interactions between human and computer".

 

The rules of the game are those of a regular Tic-Tac-Toe game, player against the computer (no 2-player option was available). The device used as input was a rotary dial (like the ones in old telephones). The output was showed in a 35x16-pixel cathode-ray tube display. This game was never very popular because the EDSAC computer was only available at the University of Cambridge, so it was not possible to install it and play it in other places (until a long time later when an EDSAC emulator was created and distributed, and by that time many other great video games where available also…).

 

1958: Tennis for Two

 

This game was created by William Higinbotham, a scientist from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. It was made as a way of entertainment, so laboratory visitors had something funny to do while they were waiting on "visitors day" (at last!... a video game that was created "just for the fun of it"…) . The electronic game was very well designed for its era: the ball behavior was modified by many factors like position/angle of contact, wind speed, gravity and so on; you had to avoid the net as in real tennis, and many other options. The video game hardware also had two "joysticks" (two controllers with a rotational knob and a push button each) connected to an analog console, and an oscilloscope as a display.

 

Many people consider "Tennis for Two" the first video game ever created. But as before, other people differ from the idea as they said that "it was a computer game, not a video game" or "the output display was an oscilloscope, not a "raster" video display… so it does not counts as a video game". But you know… you can't please everyone…

 

It's been said that "Tennis for Two" was the inspiration for Atari's world famous video game "Pong", but this rumor has never been supported by Atari representatives… as expected.

 

1961: Spacewar!

 

"Spacewar!" video game was created by Stephen Russell, with the help of J. Martin Graetz, Peter Samson, Alan Kotok, Wayne Witanen and Dan Edwards from MIT. During the 1960s, MIT was "the place to be" if your plan was to do computer research and development. So this half a dozen of ingenious guys took advantage of a brand-new computer was ordered and expected to arrive campus very soon (a DEC PDP-1) and started planning on what kind of hardware testing programs could be developed. When they discovered that a "Precision CRT Display" would be part of the hardware for the system, they all decided that "some kind of visual/interactive game" would be the demonstration software that would be perfect for the PDP-1. And after some discussion, it was soon decided to be a space battle game of some sort. After this decision, all other ideas started coming out very fast: like game rules, designing concepts, programming ideas, etc..

 

So after about 200 man/hours of design and programming, the first version of the game was at last ready to be tested. The game consisted of two spaceships (affectively named by players "pencil" and "wedge") targeting missiles at each other with a star at the center of the display (which "pulls" both spaceships because of its gravitational force). A set of control switches was used to control each spaceship (for missiles, speed, rotation, and "hyperspace"). A limited amount of fuel and missiles was available for each spaceship, and the hyperspace function was like a "panic button", in case everything else fails (it could either "save you or break you").

 

The computer game was an instant hit between MIT students and programmers, and soon they started programming their own updates to the game program (like real star charts for background, star/no star option, background disable option, angular momentum option, etc.). The game code was emulated to several other computer platforms (since it required a video display, a hard to find option in 1960s computers, it was mostly emulated to newer/cheaper DEC systems like the PDP-10 and PDP-11).

 

Many people consider that "Spacewar!" is not only the first "real" video game ever made (notice that this game does have a video display), but it also have been proved to be the true predecessor of the first arcade game, as well as serving as inspiration of several other video games, consoles, and even video gaming companies (can you say "Atari"?...). But that's another story, arcade games and console video games were written in another page of the history of video games (so come back for future articles on these subjects).

 

==========

 

So there they are, the "First Video Game" nominees. Which one do you think is the first video game ever made?... In my humble opinion, I think all previously mentioned games were pioneers of its era, and must be credited as a group as the beginners of the video gaming revolution. More than looking for which one was the first video game, what is really important is that they were created, and that's the bottom line. Like Stephen Russell, creator of Spacewar!, said: "If I hadn't done it, someone would have done something equally exciting if not better in the next six months. I just happened to get there first".

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The issue is very clear when you're talking about the actual technology. None of those previous examples use an actual video signal (the video in "video game" is there for a reason, and the courts agreed when the previous technologies were trotted out by various defense attorneys).

 

BTW - I wrote the bulk of the First Video Game article there along with 2 other authors, in response to this very debate there. This is why those other games are clearly defined as earlier technology that does not use a video display. The problem is that the use of the term "video game" has gone on to more widespread use for any computerized game with an interactive display (something I also helped define for the main definition of the video game page over there).

 

I would also add, it'd be better to use "electronic game" than "computer game". As you have noted above, the term computer can be applied to mechanical devices as well.

Edited by wgungfu
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Because it doesn't have "raster video equipment" as a display (a TV set, monitor, etc.) it's been said that it does not qualify as a real "video game.

 

But it can classify as a 'real' computer game.

 

TV screens, monitor are not important, Roberta Williams (Sierra) played computer games during the 70s just using Telenet and Teletypewriters and no TV screen at all. Bill Gates did his early programming using Teletypewriters almost until the late 70s, there was no TV screen.

Edited by frenchman
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According to the following link, it describes the Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann effort as an 'interactive electronic gaming device'

 

http://ab-games.org/

 

 

According to the same link, it classes the Nimrod and OXO (Naughts and crosses) games as the first examples of 'computers specifically designed/programmed to play these games'

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According to the following link, it describes the Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann effort as an 'interactive electronic gaming device'

 

http://ab-games.org/

 

 

According to the same link, it classes the Nimrod and OXO (Naughts and crosses) games as the first examples of 'computers specifically designed/programmed to play these games'

 

 

That's an almost exact copy of the First Videogame page at Wikipedia.

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According to the following link, it describes the Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann effort as an 'interactive electronic gaming device'

 

http://ab-games.org/

 

 

According to the same link, it classes the Nimrod and OXO (Naughts and crosses) games as the first examples of 'computers specifically designed/programmed to play these games'

 

 

That's an almost exact copy of the First Videogame page at Wikipedia.

It's a spam site, look at the links interspersed in the text.

 

..Al

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Does anyone have any firm details about "Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device"? I've looked online and can't find much. I run a website about video game history as well and the subject fascinates me.

 

From what little I have read, it doesn't really sound to me like CRT Amusement Device is really a game per se. I know everyone is arguing the merits of the video side of what game came first but if you ask me, Naughts and Crosses or Nimrod definitely sound like actual games whereas CRT Amusement Device just sounds like trying to aim a blip. Is that a game?

Does anyone have concrete info? I know the device does not exist except in patent form. I just want to know what the game play was like.

 

My site, if anyone's interested, is www.computerspacefan.com

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Does anyone have any firm details about "Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device"? I've looked online and can't find much. I run a website about video game history as well and the subject fascinates me.

 

From what little I have read, it doesn't really sound to me like CRT Amusement Device is really a game per se. I know everyone is arguing the merits of the video side of what game came first but if you ask me, Naughts and Crosses or Nimrod definitely sound like actual games whereas CRT Amusement Device just sounds like trying to aim a blip. Is that a game?

Does anyone have concrete info? I know the device does not exist except in patent form. I just want to know what the game play was like.

 

My site, if anyone's interested, is www.computerspacefan.com

 

 

Yes, its a game, and was filed and described as such in the filing:

 

http://patimg2.uspto.gov/.piw?docid=US0024...26RS=PN/2455992

 

What it basically is, is you're trying to "hit" paper targets on mounted on the screen with an electronic etch-a-sketch. Only a step up from a typical EM based target shooting arcade games, the player has controls that directly moves the beam about the screen, in turn drawing a dot - i.e. its a vector crt. There's electronics that tell if the beam moves to a certain area on the screen and that's about the extent of it. No direct interaction with the "targets", nothing actually drawn, etc. You could probably have done the same thing with a small flashlight and photoelectric sensors (or mechanically by having levers that trigger when the flashlight tilts to proper angles and directions).

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