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What Was the First Video Game?

The game, called Tennis For Two, featuring a ball bouncing around the screen under the control of a small, hand-held controls which made a mechanical clicking sound. Players could see the mechanical parts bouncing back and forth as they pressed the button and spun the dial to knock the ball back over the net to the opponent.

On one October day, a nuclear physicist, Dr. William ‘Willy’ Higinbotham, had prepared something special for Brookhaven’s guests as he had noticed that visitors didn’t connect well with the static displays shown at the fair. He created something more compelling for the lab’s visitors to interact with which was a simple tennis game played on an oscilloscope; a device that looks like a radar screen in a submarines. 

Tennis for Two was the hit and a revolutionary step in video games history, setting the foundation for later games like Pong – the video game craze of the 1980’s. Despite its historical appearance, after the exhibition was over, the game was dismantled and being forgotten for years.

There is also debates over if Tennis for Two was the first game as there are some who say other games beat TfT such as the ‘Cathode-Ray Amusement Device’ which was patented in 1948 and used electronic signals to shoot ‘targets.’ or the  Alan Turing’s 1948 chess simulation ‘Turochamp’ or the 1952 game ‘OXO’.

These three technological games were obviously  important steppingstones for modern video games; however, they were not the world’s first video games because:

The Cathode-Ray Amusement Device wasn’t a video game since it operated on analog hardware while Alan Turing’s ‘Turochamp’ was a theoretical game that was never actually built to run and its code was written for chess simulation, and computers of that day couldn’t even operate the program.

Finally, OXO was a simple game of tic-tac-toe that ran on computers with memory in which the player entered their moves via a rotary telephone controller. Although its ability to compete was impressive but its major purpose was for research, not entertainment. OXO was much more similar to Minesweepers than Mario which should be considered a computer game as opposed to a video game because it didn’t have a dynamic display allowing user to interact in real time.