Friday, 1 November 2013

A history of Computer Games part I: A history of computers - 1970s

Why do we play games? Why did we start to make and play games? For entertainment purposes... Right?

These were the questions I found myself asking after my recent lectures on the history of computers, common sense would tell you they are and were made for fun however initially that's not necessarily true, the first ever game was in fact made to demonstrate the hardware developed for a laboratory annual exposition by a scientist that also worked on nuclear weapons. The game was tennis for two and was created by William Higinbotham and took a few weeks to create. From this point onwards it was more recognised as a form of entertainment and was seen as something that could potentially become profitable however things were quite slow until the 70s. This is later proven by the boom in different consoles in the 80s but ill go in to detail on this in a later blog post.

The Jacquard Loom built in 1801 was considered one of the first steps towards modern computing, it was able to produce different patterns by inserting different cards with holes in it. Although the loom did no computation based on them it was it was considered a conceptual precursor to computer programming. Another major step in computing was the difference engine, it is essentially the first attempt at the calculator. This was more of a concept as it was never actually built due to needing very precise parts which could not be produced at the time but it has been built since and has been proven to work. It is also one of the first examples of input and output as it would punch the results in to a piece of paper afterwards.
Here is an example of a Jacquard Loom and the hole-punched paper output i mentioned.

If you were to do a quick internet search for women in technology you wouldn't find too much. Very rarely do stories of women in the tech business vary from people saying "where are the women?".Women in fact helped pioneer technology as much as men did, An example of this is Ada Lovelace. She directly helped create the first computer and through her notes she is recognised as the first computer programmer.

Here is the game Tennis for two running on its original machine, you also saw the device used to control it which is potentially the first ever control pad

From a young age we had a computer, I vaguely remember only being able to use it after 6pm due to the dial up connection however at other times I remember playing Command and Conquer for hours on end. This was probably my first experience with gaming other than my brothers Sega Mega Drive. Computers, are something we have taken for granted for many years now, our generation has grown up with them and they will continue to be integrated in to society more as companies and designers innovate. Computers have been around for hundreds of years however its not until the 1950s that technology started to become powerful enough to run basic games and the know-how to produce said games came about. This brings us back to Tennis For Two which was first introduced in 1958 created at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Probably one of the biggest advancement in technology in the past few hundred years is the Cathode Ray Tube or CRT display which first came around in 1897 and has been adapted and perfected over the years. In 1947 the first interactive electronic game using a CRT screen was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr and Estle Ray Mann. This was the first recorded interactive electronic game although this is argued. It was never marketed or released to the public but was patented in 1948. This was considered one of the biggest steps toward arcade and home gaming. As mentioned earlier, the first video game was created in 1958 by William Higinbotham and was called Tennis for Two, it was played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope. Many adaptations of this game and other attempts at sports based games came from this also but this then led to another notable game, Spacewar, made in 1962 and is the first game to be based off something that doesn't actually exist. This then essentially became the first arcade game later in 1971 and was then followed by the arcade version of pong a year later, this year also marked the creation of Atari. Four years later pong was released for home consoles. The first ever video game console you could plug in to the television was the Magnavox Odessey By many pong is considered to be the first game to be created however this is a common misconception, this is just one of the first few games to be released on console. At this point games and gaming consoles began to look more recognisable with handheld devices to control it and the ability to plug it into the tv.

The golden age of gaming soon follows however i will continue this in a future blog post.
Image,Video reference: - Tennis for two video Jacquard loom picture 80s games image - A cheesey American documentary that proved rather helpful

General Reference:

No comments:

Post a Comment