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 …