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kottke.org posts about videogames


posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 15, 2009

Spacewar was one of the first video games and in 1972, Rolling Stone sent a 33-yo Stewart Brand to document the early days of computing as entertainment. The photographs were taken by a 23-yo Annie Leibovitz.

“We had this brand new PDP-l,” Steve Russell recalls. “It was the first minicomputer, ridiculously inexpensive for its time. And it was just sitting there. It had a console typewriter that worked right, which was rare, and a paper tape reader and a cathode ray tube display, [There had been CRT displays before, but primarily in the Air Defense System.] Somebody had built some little pattern-generating programs which made interesting patterns like a kaleidoscope. Not a very good demonstration. Here was this display that could do all sorts of good things! So we started talking about it, figuring what would be interesting displays. We decided that probably you could make a two-Dimensional maneuvering sort of thing, and decided that naturally the obvious thing to do was spaceships.”

You can play the original version of Spacewar in your Java-enabled browser.