Mommy, Where Did Video Games Come From?

Do you ever think about the initial introduction, of video games? Who made them? Well I do, often, and then I forget to do some research. It turns out that today was the perfect day to dive into video game history. This weekend started off with taking my 12 year old mini-nerd to Theater Competitions, then ended with the other two minis falling ill and the cherry on top? Was when I tripped over a laundry basket and potentially broke my baby toe. So I thought I would take the time today to research and share. So here goes!

In 1947, two “video games” were born. They were not twins, but there is great debate as to which game actually came first.

Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device

One (above) was inspired by a missile simulation. It was called a “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device” and it was made by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann.



Dr. Dietrich Prinz loading his chess program

The other was a chess game. Yes, a chess game. It was a theoretical computer chess program, developed as an example of machine intelligence by Alan Turing and Dietrich Prinz.

1971 introduced the Pre-Golden age of  Arcade Video Games  The first being “Galaxy Game”.  This was the first coin operated, commercially sold video game. Shortly followed in 1972 by “Pong”.  Pong was developed by Atari and rose in popularity very quickly, clearing the way for other video games to replace pinball machines in the arcades.   The “Pre-Golden age of Video Arcade games: 1972-1977

* Did you know: The movie Tron released in 1982, was actually inspired by the  Arcade Video Game, Pong. The creator of Tron, Steven Lisberger, became inspired to make the movie after seeing Atari’s breakthrough game Pong. As well as watching a demo from a tech company that showed off  the potential of CGI Graphics.  Beginning development of the movie Tron began in 1976

Thanks to the growing popularity of   Arcade Video Games, 1978 begins the “Golden Age” of  Arcade Games.

1980 Arcade

Opening the Golden Age for  Arcade Video games was Taito’s Space Invaders.  The golden age also introduced official genre categorizations. You know: Action-adventure, Adeventure, Role-Playing, Beat ‘Em Up, Etc… Between 1978 and 1982 the industry for  Arcade Video Games skyrocketed.   After Space Invaders became such a hit,  businesses everywhere wanted to monopolize on this video game action and arcade video games began to appear everywhere.

By 1987  the demand for Arcade Video Games began to fade, thanks to the rising popularity of home video game consoles. Marking the Post-Golden Age for Arcade Video Games. 1987-present


Video games in the home weren’t really common until 1972 when Magnavox released the “Brown Box” later renamed  to  the Magnavox Odyssey.


This was the first game console that could be connected to your TV at home.  It featured games like: Brain Wave,  Interplanetary Voyage,  Prehistoric Safari and Table Tennis.   However, video game consoles really didn’t even become popular in households until Atari released an in home version of the game Pong in 1975.



In the mid-70’s,  home gaming really spun off into a couple of directions. Video game consoles which you could hook up to your television, or video games you could play on your computer.
The late 70’s really brought online gaming into reality with clumsy plain-text interfaces. Hey! Everything has to start somewhere right? Improvements to the online gaming concept were made in the 80’s when  Superset Software created Snipes!. Snipes! was originally released in 1982 as a monochrome single player game. It was later re-released as a text-mode networked computer game created to test Netware and demonstrate it’s capabilities. (Netware is a computer network operating system developed by Novell, Inc.) Snipes! was the first network multi-player game ever made!

In 1983 the video game industry crashed.  A lot of things happened.  Games were poorly developed, big companies went bankrupt, poor marketing and a lot of people thought that video games were just a fad that people would quickly get over. (We sure proved those people wrong!)
But out of the ashes rose the phoenix right?

1985 brought with it the third generation 8 bit video game consoles. (This is where my experience with video games begins!) With Nintendo paving the way with their bundled console options and Super Mario Bros. , Gyromite and Duck Hunt. Nintendo also offered a variety of controller types that were accessories to specific games. (For instance, Duck Hunt had the gun that went with it.)
Legend of Zelda released in 1986 later followed by sequel games and the introduction of the Final Fantasy series. These games became iconic as the world’s most successful video games and RPG franchises. Following  NES grand entrance to the world of video games,  there were 2 other main competitors. Sega and Atari.
These days, thanks to the pioneers of video games, we have so many options to choose from.

Where are they now?
Due to a series of unfortunate events Atari ended up selling the name and assets to Hasboro Interactive for 5 million dollars.  Now Atari is owned by a company  named infrogrames.

In 1999 Sega shifted gears and became a 3rd party software developing company, and they are doing quite well with that change. Good for them!

Now that my curiosities have been quenched.  If I have missed anything  please feel free to comment and help me add corrections. There are so many contradicting sources of information, it is often difficult to figure out which is right and which is wrong.


One thought on “Mommy, Where Did Video Games Come From?

  1. Pingback: Video Games and the Gamer Girl |

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