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Video Games Timeline 1949 to 1969

Rod Munday | Thursday May 21, 2009

Categories: Other Topics, Computer Games, Video Games, Timeline


OXO - A single-player version of the pencil and paper game ‘noughts and crosses,’ written by Alexander Douglas for his PhD on human-computer interaction.

Douglas programmed the game on a proto-type computer known as EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator).

Only one EDSAC machine was ever built, so few people knew of the game’s existence.


Tennis for Two - A simple tennis game played on an oscilloscope which was hooked up to an analogue computer.

Tennis for Two was built by Willy Higginbotham, a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

Higginbotham created it as a novelty attraction for an open day at the lab, but despite being a big hit with the visitors that day, he had no interest in developing the idea further.


Space War – A widely played space-battle game which influenced future generations of game designers.

Space War was originally created by Steve Russell when he was a student at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was played on one of the first computers equipped with a TV monitor display, rather than just a punch card readout.

Space War was inspired by the science fiction books of E.E. Doc Smith: two ships (consisting of simple black and white line graphics) battled it out against a moving star field.

Russell only intended the game to be played by himself and a handful of other students, however, the source code was copied and it was consequently played by many students in different US universities.


Brown Box - A prototype games console that plugged into a television set, it was built by engineer and inventor Ralph Baer.

The brown box was a device that made white dots appear on the screen which could be moved by turning two knobs on a controller.

Several games could be played on this device, a ‘fox and hounds’ game that used a gun, a ‘hockey game’, a ‘US-style football game’ and most significantly...

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