Friday, August 6, 2010

Tennis for Two - 1958

Yesterday after work I did something that I haven't done in years - played tennis. Not Virtua Tennis, but real tennis where you actually sweat and everything. Barbaric! But fun.

I've read a few books on the history of video games and there have been several that have laid claim to be the "first video game". The chronological order of these games are pretty well documented so it basically boils down to the actual definition of "video game" that you want to use. Well given my tennis match from yesterday I thought I would give a respectful nod to a game that was AMONG the first - Tennis for Two. (Apologies to Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device, OXO/Noughts and Crosses, NIM on the NIMROD, etc.)

In 1958, the Brookhaven National Laboratory was having its annual Visitor's Day and the staff was putting together various exhibits for the visiting public. Physicist William Higinbotham created an interactive display using an analog computer and an oscilloscope which simulated the side view of a tennis court and allowed 2 people to each use a controller with a knob and a button to hit a ball back and forth over the net at each other at varying angles - he titled the game Tennis for Two.

It took Higinbotham about three weeks to develop the plans for the game and then it was actually built by Robert Dvorak. When the people started touring it was such a hit that reportedly there were lines out the building to check it out. Check out the video below and if you like you can read more about it on the Brookhaven National Laboratory's webpage HERE.

And then 42 years later Virtua Tennis was released on the Dreamcast.

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Fallguy40 said...

Interesting stuff. Electronic gaming goes back further than I thought.