Video Gaming's Early Years
The idea and concept of being able to interact with an image projected onto a screen in some way stretches as far back as the 1940's. It was until 1958 however that the first known video game was created, which happened at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The game was a tennis game for two, very much like the Pong game that would kick off the video gaming craze in earnest 15 years later, and was played courtesy an oscilloscope. It was designed by William Higinbotham of the BNL, yet despite the monumental significance of the achievement, the game was never documented by the media and was confined to the BNL's labs for two years where it could be played by visitors. It was deconstructed in 1959 so the parts could be used for other purposes.
By 1962 the first computer game had been created, Spacewar!, invented by a young MIT computer programmer. The game was a two-player game in which players took turns firing torpedoes at one another. The players could also maneuver their ships around to avoid the fire from their opponents, while simultaneously having to avoid being sucked into the sun by its mighty gravitational pull.
It took another 5 years from that point before the first video game played on a television screen was created. That game was called Chase and was played on a home console system dubbed the "Brown Box", both of which were coded by Ralph Baer, who worked for Sanders Associates at the time. That console was eventually licensed to Magnavox and later released as the Magnavox Odyssey, the first ever commercially available home video game system. The system used a form of cartridges seen in later consoles, which told the system how to operate. There would eventually be 27 different games released for the system, which sold over 300,000 units. New versions of the system would be released at regular intervals in the coming years.
After the Odyssey hit the market and found success, a mad dash was now own to create video game systems and games, which is considered the second generation of home consoles. Fairchild released the Channel F in 1976, the first CPU-based console. Atari released their 2600 console in 1977, followed by the 5200 in 1982. Mattel meanwhile released the Intellivision in 1980, Magnavox released the Odyssey 2 in 1978, and Coleco released the ColecoVision in 1982. While few of the many systems of that generation achieved any lasting success aside from the 2600, they all helped pave the way for the immense success that video gaming would achieve in the coming generations.