The very first video game was created over 50 years ago... but it is still very awesome!

Spacewar on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1. Creative Commons/Kenneth Lu.

Spacewar on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1. Creative Commons/Kenneth Lu.

In 1962 Steve Russell along with other MIT students developed Spacewar on the new computer called the PDP-1. It quickly drew in a niche audience of other university employees and students who had never seen anything like it. They would stay up late hosting competitions just playing spacewar, as the expanded and improved on the game.

On an strange circular screen with black and white graphics was a simple scene of two spaceships, a black hole, and a starry background. The objective was simple blow up your opponents ship. You could activate thrusters with limited fuel, and zip around the map. The black hole pulled the ships closer the center, the gravity getting stronger the closer you got to the middle. But if you were clever you could get a perfect trajectory and use the gravity to fling you around the vortex at unprecedented speeds, but the wrong angle would cause you to collide with death.

Torpedos can be fired at any time, as well as a hyperdrive which allowed you to instantly teleport anywhere on the screen, but at the more you use it, the more likely you are to blow up. It was controlled awkwardly with switches on the front and side of the computer. But they quickly developed the first video game controller just for spacewar! As you can see, this game is incredibly advanced for the time, due to the addiction and dedication of the ones who first played it.

This relates to my project at Our Riverside because I am researching inventions created in the 60’s specifically in MIT and how it impacted the cambridge community.