A History of Video Games

Jack D. 8-1523

1961-

Spacewar! (MIT 1962)

1961: Spacewar

Spacewar is often considered to be the first true video game to exist. It began when the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) gave MIT a PDP-1 computer to experiment with. The students began to make "interesting displays" that evolved into a sort of game. That game became Spacewar. While it's a far cry from what we know as video games today, the industry does owe its origins to this 1961 experimental game.

1966-67/1970: First Interactive TV Game(s)

Ralph Baer and his team at Sanders Associates create the first interactive TV games. These games were a chase game and a tennis game. The team manipulated a toy gun so that it could detect lights on the screen. This technology would later be used for the Nintendo game Duck Hunt in 1985. In 1970, the company Magnavox officially licensed Baer's games.

1970-1971: Computer Space

Computer Space is released as what is widely considered to be the first video arcade game. The game ultimately flopped due to people complaining of it being too difficult.

1972: The Magnavox Odyssey and Atari

The Magnavox Odyssey is showcased as the first ever home video game console.


Atari is founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, creators of Computer Space. They begin developing their first game, Pong.

1976: Coleco Telestar and Cartridge Based Consoles

Coleco releases the Telestar.


Fairfield camera invents cartridge based video games which utilizes what looks like 8-track audio tapes to play games.



1977: The Atari 2600

Atari releases its first cartridge based console, the Atari 2600. It becomes the most popular video game console until Nintendo releases the Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom in Japan) in 1985.

1980: The Intelivision and Pac-Man

Mattel releases the Intelivision to compete with the 2600. It has superior graphics, but has a higher price tag.


Namco releases 300,000 units of Pac-Man, which becomes the most popular arcade game of all time.

1983: The Nintendo Famicom

Nintendo releases the Famicom (Family Computer) in Japan. They plan to give Atari the rights to market the console in America, however this plan falls through, and the NES isn't released until 1985 in the US.

1985: Tetris

A Russian programmer develops Tetris. Tetris later becomes known as the most accessible game of all time.

1986: The Nintendo Entertainment System

The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) is released throughout the US. It is package with Super Mario Bros. Both become extremely popular and well known. The NES is often consider to be the greatest game of all time.

1989: The Gameboy, the TurboGrafx-16, and the Sega Genesis

Nintendo releases the first handheld video game system, the Nintendo Gameboy.


The TurboGrafx-16 is released the first console with a 16-bit processor, and games stored on a compact disc.


The Sega Genesis is released to compete with the NES. It has superior graphics and has a 16-bit processor.

1991: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Nintendo releases the Super NES to compete with the Sega Genesis. It is superior in almost every way. The biggest video game rivalry of all time occurred as Nintendo and Sega fans constantly debated which console was superior. Sega coined the term "Blast Processing", which the console apparently had. The term was meaningless, however Sega fans would constantly use it as an argument that the Sega Genesis was the greater console.

1993: The Atari Jaguar

Atari attempts to release the first 64-bit console. It actually only has two 32-bit processors. The console is a major failure, and often considered one of the worst consoles of all time. Atari begins to fade into obscurity at this point.

1994: The Sony Playstation

Sony releases the Playstation. The console is extremely popular, with superior graphics to both the SNES and the Sega Genesis.

1996: The Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 is released in the US. It has superior graphics to the Playstation, and becomes wildly popular.

1998: The Sega Dreamcast

Sega introduces their first 3D console. It was the first console that could connect to the Internet. It would have been successful had the XBOX and Playstation 2 not been released.

2000: The Sony Playstation 2

The Playstation 2 is released in the US. Only 500,000 units are available during the first shipment.

2001: The Microsoft XBOX, the Nintendo Gamecube, and the Gameboy Advance

Microsoft releases the XBOX, the most advanced console yet, with the most interactive online experience up to that point.


Nintendo releases the Gamecube and the Gameboy Advance.

2004: The Nintendo DS

Nintendo releases the Nintendo DS, a portable game console with two screens.

2005: The PSP

Sony releases a handheld game console called the Playstation Portable (PSP).

2006: The XBOX 360, The Wii, and the Playstation 3

The Wii, the XBOX 360, and the Playstation 3 all launch in 2006. This marks the beginning of the current generation of video game consoles.

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