1971 Galaxy Game is the earliest known coin-operated computer or video game. It was installed at the Tresidder Union at Stanford University in September, 1971, two months before the release of Computer Space, the first mass-produced video game. Only one unit was built initially, although the game later included several consoles allowing users to play against each other. The game was programmed by Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck. Like Computer Space, it was a version of the existing Spacewar!, which had been created in the early 1960s on the PDP-1 and had since been ported to a variety of platforms. The coin-operated game console incorporated a DEC PDP-11/20 with vector displays. The hardware cost around USD$20,000 ($113,377.16 today). In June 1972 the hardware was improved to allow the processor to power four to eight consoles. A game cost 10 cents or three games for 25 cents. It remained popular on campus, with wait times for players as long as an hour, until it was removed in May 1979 due to the display processor becoming unreliable. The unit was restored in 1997 and is now in the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. In August 2010, the San Jose Mercury News reported that the museum had loaned the console to Google for display and gameplay at the Googleplex, their headquarters campus.
1972 • Pong is one of the earliest arcade video games. Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game and signalled the launch of the video game industry
1973 • Atari’s space race was a space-themed arcade game where players controlled spaceships that race against opposing ships, while avoiding comets and meteors.
A Sprite is a two-dimensional image or animation that is integrated into a larger scene. Initially including just graphical objects handled separately from the memory bitmap of a video display, this now includes various manners of graphical overlays. 1974 • Taito’s basketball was an early example of a video game that displayed sprite* images, both for the players and the baskets, and an early attempt at accurately simulating a team sport.
1975 • Interceptor released in Japan in 1975 and abroad in 1976. It was an early first-person shooter and combat flight simulator that involved piloting a jet fighter, using an eight-way joystick to aim with a crosshair and shoot at enemy aircraft that move in formations of two, can scale in size depending on their distance to the player, and can move out of the player's firing range.
1976 • Fonz is a 1976 arcade racing video game developed by Sega and published by Sega-Gremlin. The game was based on the hit TV show Happy Days and the slogan was "TV's hottest name, Your hottest game." The game itself was simply a rebranded variant of Sega's earlier 1976 game Moto-Cross in a customized arcade cabinet. Sega was allowed to rebrand their game as Fonz because its American branch at the time was owned by Charles Bluhdorn's Gulf+Western Company and thus had access to Paramount Television's intellectual property.
1977 • Space Wars was the brainchild of Larry Rosenthal, an MIT graduate who was fascinated with the original Spacewar! and developed his own custom hardware and software so that he could play the game. Rosenthal shopped the game to various manufacturers, demanding an unheard-of 50% split of the profits. Only Cinematronics was willing to take him up on the offer. • Two players controlled different ships. One button rotated the ship left, another rotated the ship right, one engaged thrust, one fired a shell, and one entered hyperspace (which causes the ship to disappear and reappear elsewhere on the playfield at random).
1978 • Space invaders is an arcade video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally. Space Invaders is one of the earliest shooting games and the aim is to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon to earn as many points as possible. In designing the game, Nishikado drew inspiration from popular media: Breakout, The War of the Worlds, and Star Wars. To complete it, he had to design custom hardware and development tools. • It was one of the forerunners of modern video gaming and helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry (see golden age of video arcade games). When first released, Space Invaders was very successful. • The game has been the inspiration for other video games, re-released on numerous platforms, and led to several sequels. The 1980 Atari 2600 version quadrupled the system's sales and became the first "killer app" for video game consoles. Space Invaders has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows, and been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions. The pixelated enemy alien has become a pop culture icon, often used as a synecdoche representing video games as a whole.
1979 • Asteroids is a video arcade game released in November 1979 by Atari Inc. It was one of the most popular and influential games of the Golden Age of Arcade Games, selling 70,000 arcade cabinets. Asteroids uses a vector display and a two-dimensional view that wraps around in both screen axes. The player controls a spaceship in an asteroid field which is periodically traversed by flying saucers. The object of the game is to shoot and destroy asteroids and saucers while not colliding with either, or being hit by the saucers' counter-fire.
1980 • Pacman is an arcade game developed by Namco and first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. It was licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway and released in October 1980. Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an icon of 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game—and, subsequently, Pac-Man derivatives—became a social phenomenon[that sold a large amount of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single. • When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, in particular Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivatives of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealing to both genders. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history, and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. It is also one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, having generated more than $2.5 billion in quarters by the 1990s. • The character has appeared in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs. According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them. Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games. It is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
1981 • Donkey kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. It is an early example of the platform game genre, as the gameplay focuses on manoeuvring the main character across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. In the game, Jump man (since renamed Mario) must rescue a damsel in distress, Lady (now named Pauline), from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The hero and ape later became two of Nintendo's most popular characters. • The game was the latest in a series of efforts by Nintendo to break into the North American market. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo's president at the time, assigned the project to a first-time game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye, Beauty and the Beast and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside Nintendo's chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. The two men broke new ground by using graphics as a means of characterization, including cut scenes to advance the game's plot, and integrating multiple stages into the gameplay. • Despite initial misgivings on the part of Nintendo's American staff, Donkey Kong proved a success in North America and Japan. Nintendo licensed the game to Coleco, who developed home console versions for numerous platforms. Other companies cloned Nintendo's hit and avoided royalties altogether. Miyamoto's characters appeared on cereal boxes, television cartoons, and dozens of other places. A lawsuit brought on by Universal City Studios, alleging Donkey Kong violated their trademark of King Kong, ultimately failed. The success of Donkey Kong and Nintendo's victory in the courtroom helped position the company to dominate the video game market from its release in 1981 until the late 1990s