Around 1962, Steve Russell, student at MIT's Project MAC, and Alan Kotek, created the first video game, "Spacewar". Written for the DEC PDP-1, "Spacewar" was an instant success and copies started flowing to other PDP-1 owners and eventually even DEC got a copy. The engineers at DEC used it as a diagnostic program on every new PDP-1 before shipping it. The sales force picked up on this quickly enough and when installing new units, would run the world's first video game for their new customers. Spacewar didn't seem like anything special at the time -- just a shooter with a spaceship that fought off waves of attacking UFO's in dreary black and white graphics -- but it was the beginning of what is today a $10 billion business annually.

SPACEWAR on the PDP-1 and Ron Mayer's Planet Gravitational Display on the TX-2 were the early origins to the modern computer games and an inspiration for graphic display speeds, orders of magnitude faster than one thought possible at that time.

I now leared that the first computer game may have been built in 1958 by someone named William Higin-Botham who worked at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Upton, New York. Apparently he built a game of "tennis" that sounds a lot like Pong. His research involved designing radars and graphical displays, and calculating object trajectories. Simulating a tennis ball between two bats was apparently an easy problem, a problem which led to this game.

the following text is excepted from the book, "Becoming a Computer Animator"
by Michael Morrison:

1961 - In 1961 Sutherland, a MIT student, created a computer drawing program called Sketchpad. Using a light pen, Sketchpad allowed you to draw simple shapes on the computer screen, save them and even recall them later. The light pen itself had a small photoelectric cell in its tip. This cell emitted an electronic pulse whenever it was placed in front of a computer screen and the screen's electron gun fired directly at it. By simply timing the electronic pulse with the current location of the electron gun, it was easy to pinpoint exactly where the pen was on the screen at any given moment. Once that was determined, the computer could then draw a cursor at that location.

Also in 1961 another student at MIT, Steve Russell, created the first video game, "Spacewar". Written for the DEC PDP-1, "Spacewar" was an instant success and copies started flowing to other PDP-1 owners and eventually even DEC got a copy. The engineers at DEC used it as a diagnostic program on every new PDP-1 before shipping it. The sales force picked up on this quickly enough and when installing new units, would run the world's first video game for their new customers.

1966 - Ralph Baer, a supervising engineer at Sanders Associates, came up with a home video game in 1966 that was later licensed to Magnavox and called "The Odyssey". While very simplistic, and requiring fairly inexpensive electronic parts, it allowed the player to move points of light around on a screen. It was the first consumer computer graphics product.

Also in 1966, Sutherland at MIT invented the first computer controlled head-mounted display (HMD). Called the "Sword of Damocles" because of the hardware required for support, it displayed two separate wireframe images, one for each eye. This allowed the viewer to see the computer scene in stereoscopic 3D.

to be continued...

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