This article aims to pick up how the recreational machines have evolved throughout their almost 40 years of life, from its inception as a new revolutionary business model until its fall caused by the most powerful home entertainment systems. Perhaps the reader misses the absence of many classics that left us more than once without coins, games such as Golden Ax, Shinobi, Tumblepop, or Pang will not appear on the list. This is because the article would be endless by naming all the good titles that came out, and therefore I have chosen to focus only on those who contributed something new.
The OXO is a computerized version of the three in a row, that was programmed in 1952 by Alexander S., As part of an investigation at the University of Cambridge on the interaction of machines with a man. Although the OXO is considered the first game with graphics, a 1947 patent describing a missile launch simulation game sows doubts about it. Anyway, at that time, there were games in text mode.
Tennis for Two (1958)
The Tennis for Two was a game created by William Higginbotham (a physicist at the Brookhaven National) in the year 1958. More than a decade before the appearance of the mythical Pong.
Steve “Slug” Russell, Martin “Shag” Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen are the developers of Spacewar! , father of all the “matamarcianos.” After more than 200 hours of work, they would have the first version ready in 1962. The game consisted of an intergalactic fight between two spaceships, which had to ration gasoline and would be attracted by the gravity of a star and, meanwhile, end the enemy ship. The gravity did not affect the projectiles due to problems of slowing down the game.
The Beginnings of Arcade Machines
Computer Space (1971)
Computer Space, would not be the first commercial arcade machine, but the first one manufactured on a large scale. It was launched in November 1971 by the company Nuttin Associates. The engine inventor was Nolan Bushnell, who saw business after meeting Spacewar! At the University of Utah, and Ted Dabney. With the money obtained, they founded their own company, Atari. Despite the “relative success” of Computer Space, because of its confusing control, a new type of business that would give many benefits to companies in later years began to settle.
A year later, Atari premiered with the PONG arcade. Nolan Bushnell placed the first machine at a local gas station, and when he saw how it had gone, the engine was no longer working. It was full of coins.
Unlike Computer Space, the PONG had an effortless operation, and everyone could play and have fun from the first game.
The success of PONG was enormous, popularized video games, and set the arcade machines as a profitable business model. It would also start the market for home video game systems, but that’s another story.