Who’s the real father of video games?

Many people out there think that the Atari PONG was the first system and that NOLAN BUSHNELL is the father of video games, but they are WRONG!

Instead of doing the usual recap of history, I’m going to tell about the history of each person responsible for what we call “Video Games”.

Let’s start by –”THE CREATOR”<– of the “First Video Game” ever !!!

It all began in 1958, a person by the name of “Willy Higinbotham”, who was a physicist, made a WORKING model and not even with a single transistor, but with vacuum tubes! (of course, transistors did exist at that time, the transistor was created by William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain of Bell Labs in 1947).

His “Tennis” game type was exposed at the Brookhaven National Laboratory for almost TWO years, and his game was more sophisticated than the Atari PONG itself !! (yes that’s true! don’t believe me? Ask EGM magazine or the Brookhaven National Laboratory!)

Now, please remember that “Willy Higinbotham” is THE FATHER that created the first video game, I hope that many of you will correct any history about video games. Almost anybody doesn’t know about his work and he didn’t get any credit for inventing the TRULY first video game, but in my book, he is THE creator!

Here’s the story that Danny Monaghan sent me and I thought that it was special that I had to share it with all of you readers: I was delighted to see your tribute to Mr HIGINBOTHAM, the REAL inventor of Video Games! Believe it or not, I live on the same street where Mr Higinbotham lived (North Howell’s Pt. Rd., Bellport, New York) and I’m only 8 houses away! I’ve got to tell you when I was a little kid growing up he was the coolest guy on the block! He used to let all the kids in the neighbourhood play baseball in his huge backyard… and even when we hit a ball off the side of his house, or broke a window, he didn’t care!

It wasn’t until 10 years ago when I was a senior at Bellport High School that I found out Mr Higinbotham invented Pong at Brookhaven National Laboratory (just a few miles away), and I couldn’t believe it! I had grown up on the first video game systems of the ’70s, and by the time I was in High School was writing my own games for the Apple and Commodore 64. So it was a real shock when I found out that, all along, I had been living next to the almighty creator himself! Unfortunately, he passed away in ’95 and I never got a chance to thank him, but his son Willy Jr. moved into his house, so I’m thinking about stopping by someday. I don’t know if you know this, but he also worked on the first Atom bomb… a stark contrast to his harmless Pong! I just wish more historians would note his awesome achievement! [Thanks for the letter, Danny! If anybody has any insight stories related to the 4 creators of Pongs, please do !]

Now the SECOND most important person, his name is “Steve Russell”.

MIT student 1961, creates “Spacewar”(the second video game), is the first interactive computer game on a Digital PDP-1 computer.

The game is to control two tiny spaceships, one called the “WEDGE” and the other called the “NEEDLE” , the battles around a tiny dot in the middle of the screen that represents the Sun. The game featured an accurate portrait of physics in outer space. Another student even corrected the star fields in the background to the scale !!

But Russell made a mistake, he never filed for copyright. He thought that it cost too much to try to market his game, he was right about this. Only a few computers could run his game at this time, and at a cost of $120,000 for a PDP-1, it was too much to put in arcades. His game almost faded away forever if it wasn’t for the employees of Digital Equipment who used it to test their computers while installing them for customers. Customers received the game …

SEGA vs. MAPHIA, the first ROM distributing lawsuit


INC., Plaintiffs,

MAPHIA, a business of unknown structure; PARSAC, a business of unknown structure; PSYCHOSIS, a business of unknown structure; CHAD SCHERMAN aka CHAD SHERMAN aka “BRUJJO DIGITAL,” and DOES 2-6 aka “OPERATOR,” “FIREHEAD,” “LION,” “HARD CORE,” “CANDYMAN,”  all individually and d/b/a/ MAPHIA and PARSAC; HOWARD SILBERG by his mother and next friend Ilene Silberg, aka “CAFFEINE,” and DOES 14-18 aka “APACHE,” “MAELSTROM,” “GAZZER,” “PARANOID/CHRYSEIS,”  “DOOM” all individually and d/b/a/ PSYCHOSIS and PARSAC; DOES 7-12; DOES 19-25, Defendants.

No. C 93-4262 CW


857 F. Supp. 679 (1994); 30 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1921; Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P27,309

March 28, 1994, Decided

March 28, 1994, Filed

JUDGES:   [**1]   WILKEN



This is an action for copyright infringement (under 15 U.S.C. @ 101 et seq.), federal trademark infringement (under 15 U.S.C @ 1051 et seq.), federal unfair competition/false designation of origin (under 15 U.S.C. @ 1125(a)), California trade name infringement (under California Business & Professions Code @ 14400 et seq.), and California unfair competition law (under California Business and Professions Code @ 14210, 17200-17203) against Defendant Chad Scherman and several other individuals operating on-line computer bulletin boards, and the MAPHIA and other bulletin boards as businesses of unknown origin. On December 9, 1993, the Court, the Honorable Fern M. Smith presiding, issued an ex parte Temporary Restraining Order, Seizure Order, and Order to Show Cause Re Why a Preliminary   [*682] Injunction Should Not Issue enjoining Defendants’ use of Plaintiffs’ SEGA trademark and the direct and/or contributory infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights. [**2]

A hearing was held before Judge Smith on December 17, 1993, on Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, pursuant to the order to show cause. At that hearing, Judge Smith continued the temporary restraining order in effect until further order of the Court. Thereafter, Defendant Paolo Rizzi, individually, filed a written stipulation to a preliminary injunction and confirmation of the seizure. Defendants Scherman and MAPHIA filed an opposition.

Following reassignment of this action to the undersigned, a further hearing was held on February 25, 1994. The Court now determines, having considered the pleadings, all papers filed by the parties, and the parties’ oral arguments, that a preliminary injunction should issue against Defendants Scherman and MAPHIA as ordered separately. Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 65(d), the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in support of the preliminary injunction and confirmation of the seizure order:



A. The parties and their activities

1. Plaintiff Sega Enterprises, Ltd. (“SEL”), is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Japan. Compl.   [**3]   P 1.

2. Plaintiff Sega of America, Inc. (“SOA”), is a California corporation with a principal place of business in this district in San Mateo, California. SOA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEL. SOA and SEL are hereinafter sometimes collectively referred to as “Sega” or “Plaintiffs.” Compl. P 2.

3. Defendant MAPHIA is a business of unknown structure doing business and located in San Francisco, California, within this District, engaged in the business of running a computer bulletin board and related activities. Yang Decl. P 12.

4. Defendant Chad Scherman (aka Chad Sherman, aka “Brujjo Digital”) is an individual residing in this district in San Francisco, California. Chad Scherman is in possession and/or control of the MAPHIA Bulletin Board, which is run from his residence where the computer and memory comprising the bulletin board are located, and does business as MAPHIA or Maphia Trading Company on such bulletin board. He is also one of the “system operators” of the MAPHIA bulletin board. Keene Decl. PP 2, 11.

B. The Business of Plaintiffs

5. Sega is a major manufacturer and distributor of computer video game systems and computer video games which are sold under the SEGA trademark, [**4]  a registered trademark of Sega Enterprises, Ltd. (Federal Registration No. 1,566,116, issued November 14, 1989) owned by Sega. Yang Decl. P 3, Exh. A.

6. Sega’s computer video game programs are the subject of copyright under the laws …

Cloak & Dagger for ATARI 5200 – The real history behind this cartridge

You’re reading an article located at Kinox – The Emu Scene Dump, one of the most reliable sources for news about the scene (pay us a visit, you won’t regret!). This is a small article that explains the real story behind Cloak & Dagger for Atari 5200. All rights reserved to Alex Rosenberg, its author.

Many die-hard collectors and 5200 fans are aware that a Cloak and Dagger (and, for that matter, Tempest) cartridge as shown in the movie of the same name is sort of a tantalizing preview of the game. What nobody knew, however, was whether Cloak and Dagger existed as a prototype, or if the game code even existed in any form. Alex Rosenberg gave us the definitive answer after an “interview” with Dave Comstock, from ATARI

“Yes, I can answer your question about the Atari 5200 version of Cloak & Dagger.

When Warner Communications sold the consumer side of Atari to Jack Tramiel (who founded Commodore) in mid-1984, I was working on the Atari 400/800/1200 version of Cloak & Dagger. Since the Atari 5200 was basically just an Atari 400 with a different controller, when I completed the home computer version, I was supposed to modify the game to use the “360-degree” 5200 controllers (as opposed to the 9-position home computer joystick).

By the way here’s a little known fact about Cloak & Dagger: someone at Atari actually explored doing an Atari 2600 version of Cloak & Dagger, but very quickly decided that it couldn’t be done, even with major simplifications…

If you’ve ever seen the Cloak & Dagger movie, you’ll know that the cartridge shown in the movie was a 5200 cartridge. Actually, the 5200 cartridges didn’t even exist: it was a 5200 cartridge of another game with a “Cloak & Dagger” label slapped on it. Also, in the game store scenes, there were Atari 5200 Cloak & Dagger boxes shown. Those were also just mockups made for the movie.

But wait a second! Wasn’t the Atari 5200 Cloak & Dagger game actually PLAYED in the movie (and didn’t it look damn good)? Hollywood movie magic! They took the output of the coin-operated game, converted the signal, and piped it to a TV set. So if you thought it looked a lot like the coin-op game, you were right. Another interesting fact: Henry Thomas wasn’t really playing the game; instead, Atari sent down the game’s software developer, Rusty Dawe, to play the coin-op game for the movie! So they showed Henry Thomas furiously working the 5200 controllers, cut to the television showing Rusty’s progress in the game (sometimes even with Henry’s reflection on the screen), and back again. Rusty — er, make that Russell B. Dawe — got his own full- screen credit at the end of the movie for the game design.

Although the rest of the game shown in the movie was taken from the real coin-op game, the spectacular 3D “secret plans” finale of the game was pure Holywood animation: the real game ends somewhat anti-climactically with one of several static, crudely-drawn blueprints. I don’t recall whether Rusty ran short of ROM space or time, but the secret plans weren’t up to the quality of the rest of the game, much less the movie game’s ending.

Oh, and another piece of trivia: the original name of the Cloak & Dagger coin-operated game was actually…Agent X (hence the name of the protagonist in the game and the off-hand comment by Dabney Coleman in the movie that he “used to be known as Agent X”). The game had been under development at Atari as “Agent X” for quite a while, and was nearly completed. The movie studio (can’t remember which one off-hand, but I have the Laserdisc) had the movie under development as Cloak & Dagger. The game cartridge that was in the original screenplay was…Donkey Kong (at the time, the most popular home videogame)! Someone at either the movie studio or Atari found out about the other, “the secret agent recovers secret plans from bad guys” plots sounded like they were made for each other, the deal was signed, and the Agent X game was renamed Cloak & Dagger.

Anyway, back …

The Swapoo Story – Emulation gets a Napster!!!

Zophar’s Domain is now the proud host of Swapoo, formerly Romney.  Swapoo is a new piece of software, that got renamed quickly, that acts just like that now-infamous program named Napster and has gotten plenty of press already.  Its author is 17 years old, named Jeff Freeman, and from Zophar’s area in the United States (hint hint, it has a “P” and is on the east coast;-)).

Simply put, this program allows the user to download ROM images from other people’s computers once they connect to the Snapoo server – just like Napster.  So, basically, it is a modified Napster copy-cat program that collects ROMs.

Anyway, supporting programs like Swapoo could spell trouble for everyone involved in emulation.  Think about it, people downloading illegal ROM images off of each other’s computers in a type of “sharing” movement could spell the end of emulation with all the publicity, and who do we thank for all this you may ask? Zophar ;-), for publicizing it at Zophar’s Domain? The talented young author? Or just ourselves for proudly using it?

This program could spell doom for emulation and cause it to go further underground.  Downloading from images shouldn’t be something like Napster in today’s age of emulation – with Nintendo and IDSA bugging people all the time, it should stay as it is – a struggle to keep images alive and find interesting ways to distribute them, but not something like this – the attention is un-needed.

Anyway, you now know where it is located, who did it, and what it is.  The user now will determine its fate ;-), as the infamous Star Wars quote puts it “The force is with you”(I know it sounds stupid but it fits).…