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The Birth of PC Gaming 30

jayintune writes "2old2play has an article up talking about the birth of PC gaming and how computers turned into entertainment. From the article, 'It's difficult to pin down what the first true PC game was. Broadly defined, early computer games date back to primitive missile simulators (circa 1947) and Tic-Tac-Toe games on very early computers with analog electronics. These computers were essentially glorified calculators with a bit of storage (in some cases, "storage" meant the position of a physical relay as big as your fist, or the on/off condition of a vacuum tube).'"
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The Birth of PC Gaming

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  • XYZZY (Score:4, Interesting)

    by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:01PM (#15757456) Homepage
    Though no doubt there were plenty of games prior to it, for me, it was the original text adventure, and those magic words, "XYZZY". :) The very thought of creating a game absolutely captivated me, and enticed me to the point where now I'm willing to sit and stare at a screen all day long and go home and do the same... not exactly healthy, but ah... it's a happy place to be... :) --Ray
  • Hammurabi, Star Trek, the text only Lunar Lander, Those were the days!
  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:07PM (#15757521)
    Bleh... First of all the article is talking about digital computers and not analog. Technically speaking if you include analog computers then MIT wasn't the first. Brookhaven National Laboratory actually built a game called Tennis for Two using an analog computer. Essentially, it was Pong. []
    • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:20PM (#15757629) Homepage
      ### Brookhaven National Laboratory actually built a game called Tennis for Two using an analog computer. Essentially, it was Pong.

      You are correct that Tennis for Two was probally the very first video game, however it was basically nothing like Pong, sure, both 'simulated' tennis, but thats where the similarities stop. Tennis for Two has a sideview, simulates gravity and allows the player to control the angle at which he reflects the ball, while Pong is top down and has a panel that you can move up and down. Tennis for Two looks really looks quite a bit more impressive and while Pong has been cloned thousands of times, I havn't yet seen a Tennis for Two clone.
  • I had my first IBM-PC compatible back in 1986 so I am by no means an authority on what the really first PC games were. The first games that I saw were basically ports of existing classics. (They were mainstream at the time and weren't really 'classics' in that sense yet.) I played Dig-dug, Digger, Bluebush Chess, Q-bert, Pac-man, Tapper, Archon, Zork, Ancient Art of War, Bard's Tale, etc. Except for the last three I mentioned, many of them could fit on a double-sided 360Kb (Wow!) diskette. Since they were p
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:29PM (#15757711) Homepage
    I vote for Claude Shannon and E. F. Moore's 1953 analog Hex-playing [] computer.

    Unlike tic-tac-toe, which is so trivial that a tic-tac-toe-playing computer is only entertaining because it is a computer doing it, the Shannon and Moore machine put up a genuine challenge to a human player, on a game that was not fully analyzed at the time, and that was interesting enough to human players to have been released as a commercial board game.

    Of course, I have also wondered whether Link trainers, [] full-sized flight simulators of the 1930s, were ever "flown" simply for entertainment. Knowing human nature, I bet they were. In fact, speaking of bets, I'll bet pilots placed bets on the outcome of competitive Link-trainer contests. (That's entirely speculation on my part). The Link trainers probably qualify as analog computers, even though the computations were, I believe, performed by pneumatic bellows and other non-electronic devices.
    • The Link trainers probably qualify as analog computers, even though the computations were, I believe, performed by pneumatic bellows and other non-electronic devices.
      I wasn't aware that electonics was necessary. I've heard people describe a slide rule as a simple analog computer. And didn't the UK government used to have a water driven economic simulator?
  • by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:30PM (#15757725)

    The TI 99/4A had 15 colors, not 16, and pretty crappy ones at that. Zork was not a "re-incarnation" of Colossal Cave Adventure, it was a completely different game that just happened to be in the same genre. The TRS-80 Expansion Interface did not "include" the disk controller, it was an extra cost item. And when the hell did Franklin try to clone the Mac? Most glaring of all to me was saying that Radio Shack came out with the TRS-80 in 1971. It was 1977, get some bifocals already.

    And they are clearly Commodore sympathizers, since they parenthetically refer to the TRS-80 as the "Trash-80" for no good reason, without giving the Commode-Door the same treatment.

    Oh wait, this is, where their definition of "old" is age 25-30.

    Anyhow, as far as I'm concerned "PC gaming" didn't really happen until there were proper "Personal Computers" available commercially, which meant the second wave of micros in the late '70s (Radio Shack, Apple, Commodore), but I'll give some credit to the first micros (IMSAI, etc.) and the timesharing era. The best games before games became commercial were Super Star Trek (all you needed was 16K and a lot of time to type it in), and Adventure (which I got to play on 300 baud DecWriters using the timeshare that my high school had).

  • we used to print out on a plotter and use the LED readerboard to "scan" for ships, running on punchcards. I modded the game to give the Romulans cloaking ability (changing them from the K for Klingon to R for Romulan) and let photon torpedos light them up when they hit, with a trace afterimage.

    That was on a Hewlett Packard. Way before I bought my Apple and started my own game business.
  • The birth of PC gaming was Kingdom of Kroz []. It put apogee on the map and got me addicted to PC gaming forever. It was all about the keyboard... "Wait, you mean my atari controller has 5 switches, and my PC has 101?"

  • Ahhh EGATrek, I pine for you...
  • Hey, anybody else ever play that game in the mid eighties where you were a bartender and had to run back and forth bringing beers to the patrons? It was a badass game. If you went too slow they got mad and slid you down the bar. I would like to find an online version sometime but can't find one. I used to play it on the PC Jr.
  • I remember when I first had my Amiga 500, I went to the only games shop I knew and they had a crowd gathered around "Space Quest" running on a PC. At the time it was incredible, stereo music blaring out and beautiful cut scenes scrolling across the screen. That was the day I knew I had to get a PC by hook or by crook, and for me anyway, "Space Quest" was the first proper, modern looking PC game.
  • "Right. In those days, children, we had to make our own entertainment (and if you owned a ZX81 you had to make your own keyboard, too). Breaking a new game was part of the fun (and often quite easy). Ah...those were the days when the cassette picture shows vast alien spaceships locked in combat, and the game itself probably involved firing up-arrows at flying letter As." Terry Pratchett on []

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.