Arcade games are strongly associated with the 1970s and early 1980s, while home consoles had their golden age in the 1990s. However, video games date back even farther than most people realize. Here is a brief history of the popular entertainment form.
The First Video Game
In 1940, Dr. Edward Uhler Condon unveiled what is recognized as the first video game machine at the World’s Fair in New York. It was based upon Nim, an ancient mathematical game. It was on display for six months, during which an estimated 50,000 people took a turn at playing it. An estimated 90% of the time, the computer ended up winning.
The First Arcade Game
The first video game console created for arcades was Pong, released by Atari in 1972. Today, the simplicity of its interface is a common punchline, but at the time, it was quite advanced. If not for Pong, no one today would be able to purchase a multicade cocktail table Spearfish SD.
Interestingly, Pong actually grew out of an early prototype for a multi-program, multiplayer video game system invented by Ralph Baer. Originally called the “Brown Box” but marketed as the “Odyssey,” it could be played at home on a television set. It was released in 1972 but sold very poorly. However, one of the programs was a two-player tennis-like game that would eventually inspire Pong. The inventors of the “Brown Box” knew they had a product the first time they played their ping-pong game. Eventually, their faith in the product would be vindicated.
The Rise of Home Consoles
Many were convinced from the start that video games were just a passing fad, and in 1983, it seemed that they might be right. Lower-quality games combined with an oversaturated market led to a major crash of the video game industry in 1983. However, it was only a couple of years later that Nintendo, originally a Japanese company that made playing cards, released an entertainment system featuring improved gameplay, sound, and graphics.
Since then, video games have become more innovative, each successive generation completely eclipsing the previous one.