Tag: Spacewar!

History and Gaming: Spacewar!

History and Gaming: Spacewar!

While video games have become a ubiquitous part of modern life, easily available on smartphones, translated into films and the heart of a culture unto itself, its interesting to look back to a time when access to computers was the realm of a select few. Even then, the very human urge to tinker with expensive machines to play games manifested itself in the creation of the first computer games. Spacewar! has the distinction of being one of earliest video games, created in 1962 and primarily attributed to a programmer named Steve Russell.

Spacewar! was programmed on a PDP-1 computer, a system that was sold by Digital Equipment Corporation for the princely sum of $120,000 USD in 1962 (My Asus Aspire One cost me less than $200 USD). The PDP-1 was well suited for the creation of Spacewar! and other early computer innovations as it included a CRT display and an electronic keyboard (a converted typewriter). The basic premise of the game is simple, as befits the nascent age of computing it was programmed in: two spacecraft fight it out near a star. The game included additional factors such as a hyperspace option and gravity for the star the two ships fought around.

Two starships battle in the cold depths of space in the 1962 video game Spacewar!

In order to provide players with a visually interesting background, a program called the Expensive Planetarium was written for the game simulating a real section of the night sky.

Play Spacewar! on a Javascript PDP-1 emulator at :: http://spacewar.oversigma.com/

Read 1up.com’s article on Spacewar! placing it as number 1 in their list of the Essential 50 video games :: http://www.1up.com/features/essential-50-part-1-spacewar