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Author: Ming Y Chow

Tufts OpenCourseWare
Introduction to Game Development
M. Chow
Spring 2012

 

History of Computer and Video Games

No good Game Dev course can be without a history lesson shed insight on the progress and significant contributions to video/computer games......and perhaps will enlighten you...so sit back and enjoy the ride!

The First Computer/Video Game

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  • 1952 - A.S. Douglas of U. Cambridge developed Tic-Tac-Toe for the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC), a British computer.

The 60s

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  • The first games were hacked on oscilloscopes and university mainframes.
  • 1962 - Spacewar. Developed at MIT on a PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1; Digital Equipment); used vector graphics.
  • 1965 - Periscope. Developed by Sega; popularity prompted Sega to ditch the pinball business and produce more of its own games. See http://www.pinrepair.com/arcade/sperisc.htm

The 70s

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  • 1971 - Computer Space (a Spacewar clone). Developed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney; used a regular raster display television set; too ahead of its time.
  • 1972 - Magnavox Odyssey. The first home video game console developed by Ralph Baer. A commercial success ($100 a system, 330,000 sold).
  • 1972 - Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney found Atari.
  • 1972 - Pong, the arcade machine (by Atari). Home version released in 1975.
  • 1974 - Tank. Developed by Kee Games. The first arcade game to use ROM chips.
  • 1976 - (Colossal Cave) Adventure. The first text-based interactive fiction game developed by William Crowther and Don Woods on Digital mainframes.
  • 1976 - Breakout. Prototyped by then Atari employee Steve Jobs (with the help of friend Steve Wozniak). Jobs "hosed" Wozniak on bonus money from Atari. Good read: http://classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=Articles.Detail&id=395
  • 1977 - Atari 2600 (128 bytes of RAM); Apple introduces the Apple II. 2 million Atari 2600s sold by 1980 --thanks in part to the next game...
  • 1978 - ...Space Invaders. Developed by Taito in Japan.
  • 1979 - Asteroids. Developed by Atari.

The 80s

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  • 1980 - Pac-Man. Developed by Namco. Made over $1 billion since its release.
  • 1980 - Battlezone. Developed by Atari (who was doing $1 billion in business).
  • 1981 - Many games released: Donkey Kong, Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, Tempest.
  • 1982 - Electronic Arts (EA) is founded.
  • 1984 - Apple introduces the Macintosh (birth of the modern computer). The best-of-times and the worst-of-times: the game industry > $6 billion in 1981, then Atari sales down 50% in 1981, the game industry < $800 million by 1984.
  • 1985 - Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • 1985 - Tetris. Developed in the Soviet Union.
  • 1986 - Sega Master System, Amiga by Commodore (computer), and Atari 7800.
  • 1989 - Three major products: Sega Genesis (16-bit console), Nintendo GameBoy, SimCity (developed by Maxis). What Sega did right for Genesis: EA sports titles.

The 90s: The Start of the Console Wars

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  • 1990 - Super Mario Brothers 3 (NES)
  • 1991 - Super Nintendo (SNES) released. The 16-bit competitor to the Sega Genesis.
  • 1991 - S3 introduces first single chip graphics accelerator for PC.
  • 1991 - Two major games: Street Fighter II (Capcom) and Wolfenstein 3D (id Software).
  • 1992 - Goro lives... Mortal Kombat. Developed by Dan Forden, Ed Boon, and John Tobias at Midway Games. Nintendo has $7 billion in sales worldwide; Sega and Nintendo consoles dominate 80% of the computer/video game market.
  • 1993 - Two major games: DOOM (id Software; 2.5D, not true 3D) and Myst (Broderbund).
  • 1993 - 7th Guest. First game with full-motion video.
  • 1995 - Windows 95. Make game development significantly easier (DirectX SDK, plug-and-play).
  • 1995 - Two 32-bit systems released: Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.
  • 1996 - Nintendo 64. Cartridge based system aimed for the younger market.
  • 1996 - Quake (id Software). Real 3D engine; multiplayer online game.
  • 1997 - Standardization of 3D acceleration; Pentium II 200 MHz PCs.
  • 1997 - Ultima Online. The first 3D Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG).
  • 1997 - GoldenEye 007 was released for N64. Apparently, the game was developed by a team of developers who had never developed a game before. The renowned multiplayer mode was an afterthought!
  • 1997 - Final Fantasy VII was released for PS1.
  • 1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released for N64.
  • 1999 - Sega Dreamcast released. 128-bit console.

The New Millennium

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  • 2000 - The Sims, developed by Maxis and published by EA. The best-selling PC game of all time (over 16 million copies).
  • October 26, 2000 - Sony PlayStation 2 released. 128-bit console; 294 MHz processor ("Emotion Engine"), made software development difficult.
  • November 2001 - Microsoft XBox released. 128-bit console; Pentium 4 733 MHz processor; DirectX API; hardware is the strength of the system. Launch title: Halo.
  • November 2001 - Nintendo GameCube released. 128-bit console; IBM Gekko Processor at 403 MHz; easier software development; cheapest of the three systems. Over 20 million units sold worldwide as of 2008.
  • 2001 - Grand Theft Auto III. Developed by Rockstar Games.
  • 2004 - Two handheld systems released: Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP).
  • November 2004 - World of Warcraft released; over 9 million players / subscriptions worldwide as of 2008.
  • November 2005 - Microsoft XBox 360 released. Custom IBM PowerPC and ATI Graphics processors. Very powerful hardware. Problems with overheating "Red Ring of Death" (hardware failure of some sort).
  • November 2005 - Guitar Hero I released.
  • November 7, 2006 - Guitar Hero II released.
  • November 17, 2006 - PlayStation 3 (PS3) released. Chaos ensue in lines at Best Buy stores across America and on eBay. Supports Blu-ray. An optical disc can hold up to 25 GB or data. Expensive to produce initially 40 GB or 80 GB hard drive options.
  • November 19, 2006 - Nintendo Wii released. You no longer need good luck finding one, unlike the past two years!
  • Originally code-named "Revolution."
  • Can play NES / SNES / Nintendo 64 / Sega Genesis / TurboGrafx-16 / Neo Geo games via emulation and download services No high definition support.
  • April 2007 - Nintendo profits up 77% (thanks WSJ); Wii outsells the PS3 4:1; XBox 360 outsells PS3 2:1.
  • June 2007 - Apple releases the iPhone.
  • July 2007 - Zynga founded.
  • September 2007 - Halo 3 released. Sold over 8 million copies sold worldwide.
  • November 2007 - Rock Band released for PS3 and XBox 360 by Harmonix Music Systems (based in Cambridge, MA).
  • January 2009 - Apparently, Wii Sports becomes the best-selling game of all time (that was quick).
  • November 15, 2009 - 2D lives! New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  • December 2009 - Rovio Mobile publishes first Angry Birds.
  • April 3, 2010 - Apple iPad.
  • June 24, 2010 - iPhone 4.
  • November 2010 - Microsoft Kinect.