History of Video Games

history of video games

History of Video Games: Video games have been available to a wider audience since the early 1970s. Before that, video games existed almost entirely as novelties passed around by programmers and technicians with access to computers.

History of Video Games: The beginning

1950s: To start from the beginning, you need to take a look back as far as the early 1950s, when academic computer scientists began designing simulations and simple games as part of their research or just for recreation.

For example, in 1952, British professor A.S. Douglas created Noughts and Crosses, also known as OXO or a tic-tac-toe, as part of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Cambridge.

history of video games Noughts and Crosses

Another notable early video game, Tennis for Two, was created by William Higinbotham in 1958. For the annual visitor’s day at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York – Large analog computer was connected with oscilloscope screen. VIDEO

1960s: In the 1960s, professors and students played games such as 3D tic-tac-toe and Moon Landing, at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

In 1962, Steve Russell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology invented Spacewar!, a computer-based space combat video game for the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1), then a cutting-edge computer mostly found at universities. It was the first video game that could be played on multiple computer installations.

history of video games Spacewar 1962

These games were played on computers such as the IBM 1560, and moves were made by means of punch cards. Video gaming did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when video arcade games and gaming consoles using joysticks, buttons, and other controllers, along with graphics on computer screens and home computer games were introduced to the general public.

1970s: The first commercial arcade video game, Computer Space by Nutting Associates, was introduced in 1971. However, it was 1972, when the first commercially successful video arcade game, Pong was released.

Another notable milestone in the video gaming history was the launch of Activision, the first third-party game developer (which develops software without making consoles or arcade cabinets), in 1979.

Scroll down to vote for your favorite video game consoles before 2000s. Thanks!


History of Video Games: Books

history of video games books

Books “History of Video Games: Games You Should Try, Volume 1, 1971-1976” and “History of Video Games: Games You Should Try, Volume 2, 1977-1979” were composed for all the current and future retrogamers. And will be followed with Volumes of the 80s. If interested, you can find them here: Kindle Store

Books were composed as guides to help retrogamers. The main purpose is to give information about the games you should try if possible. They were composed to save your time searching for information. Instead wasting your time, you can get all the information from one source, from these books.

history of video games books button

In these books you can find the – most important, most innovative, most playable video games as of today, listed in chronological order. Every video game has a picture and short description on the side.

However, these books were not meant to give you in-depth reviews about the games, these books were composed to provide overview – about what games were released back then and which are still playable, worth to check out today, if possible.

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Video Gaming History: Year By Year Since 1971

1991 in Video Gaming

Sega releases the Mega-CD in Japan. Super Nintendo was released in North America. Blockbuster reported that Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis was the chain’s highest-renting title in 1991.

1990 in Video Gaming

Nintendo releases the Super Famicom 16-bit console in Japan. SNK releases the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES) home console. Sega’s Game Gear color handheld is released in Japan.

1989 in Video Gaming

First game to use entirely digitized graphics was released – Exterminator. PC-Engine (JP) / TurboGrafx16 (US) was born. Nintendo releases the Game Boy handheld console.

1988 in Video Gaming

In July, Nintendo releases the first issue of Nintendo Power magazine. In October, Sega Mega Drive was released in Japan.

1987 in Video Gaming

LucasArts releases Maniac Mansion, the first game to use the SCUMM engine, innovating the point-and-click interface for the adventure game genre. Nintendo sues Blockbuster for photocopying manuals.

1986 in Video Gaming

Sega released Master System in the US, known as Sega Mark III in the Japan. It was the first real competition to Nintendo’s Entertainment System. Released with Hang On and Safari Hunt.

1985 in Video Gaming

Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros., which eventually sells 40 million copies, making it the best-selling video game of all time until 2008. NES was launched for a limited test market in the United States.

1984 in Video Gaming

Nihon Falcom releases Dragon Slayer, which lays the foundations for the action role-playing game genre. T&E Soft releases Hydlide, action role-playing game that features a health regeneration.

1983 in Video Gaming

Despite the Great Video Game Crash of 1983, two new home consoles were released. Oddly enough, Sega released their SG-1000 console in Japan, on the exact same day as Nintendo released their Famicom.

1982 in Video Gaming

Sega releases the Sega Zaxxon, an arcade system board that introduces isometric graphics. Namco releases the Pole Position, the first arcade system board to use 16-bit microprocessors.

1981 in Video Gaming

Nintendo releases Donkey Kong, which introduces legendary characters Donkey Kong and Mario and sets the template for the platformer genre. Namco releases Galaga, sequel to Galaxian.

1980 in Video Gaming

Namco releases Pac-Man. It becomes the highest-grossing game of all time. It has the first gaming mascot character, established the maze chase genre, introduced power-ups and featured cutscenes.

1979 in Video Gaming

Namco released an early color game Galaxian. Asteroids was released by Atari. Automated Simulations released Temple of Apshai, one of the first graphical role-playing games for home computers.

1978 in Video Gaming

In 1978, Space Invaders was released by Taito in Japan. Midway gave it a wide release in North America. The worldwide success of Space Invaders marks the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games.

1977 in Video Gaming

Atari released their first second-generation home console, Video Computer System, later known as the VCS or Atari 2600. Cinematronics releases Space Wars, the first vector graphics arcade game.

1976 in Video Gaming

In 1976, Channel F, an early video game console to use a microprocessor and cartridges was released. Sega released Heavyweight Champ. It was the first video game to feature hand-to-hand fighting.

1975 in Video Gaming

In 1975, first video game to depict human-to-human combat: Western Gun was developed by Taito. But most noteworthy, first microprocessor-based video game: Gun Fight was developed by Midway.

1974 in Video Gaming

Taito released Basketball, an early example of sprite graphics and the first video game ever with human figures. Atari released the first car racing video game to video arcades, called Gran Trak 10.

1973 in Video Gaming

Taito enters the video games industry and opens a North American branch. Sega, another electro-mechanical arcade game manufacturer, enters the industry with Pong clones.

1972 in Video Gaming

In 1972, the first commercially successful video arcade game, Pong was released. Magnavox unveils the Odyssey, the first video game home console. Nolan Bushnell leaves Nutting Associates.

1971 in Video Gaming

At the beginning of the 1970s, video games existed almost entirely as novelties passed around by programmers and technicians with access to computers. But it was all going to change.

The History of Video Games: Documentary

What could be better than getting to know the history of video games with Tony Hawk? You can’t really beat that!

history of video games

The video is from 2004, so it’s outdated – But it’s still fun to watch!

If you are more interested in the history of home consoles, starting with Magnavox Odyssey (1971), take a look here: Video Game Consoles

Timeline of Video Games

History of video games goes back to the early 1950s. Academic computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations as part of their research. However, video games existed almost entirely as novelties passed around by programmers and technicians with access to computers.

Commercially available video games have existed since 1971. Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck developed a coin-operated computer game, Galaxy Game, at Stanford University using a DEC PDP-11 computer with vector displays.

The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Book

ultimate history of video games

The Ultimate History of Video Games reveals everything you ever wanted to know and more about the unforgettable games that changed the world, the visionaries who made them, and the fanatics who played them. From the arcade to television and from the PC to the handheld device, video games have entraced kids at heart for nearly 30 years. Get it here

History of Video Games by Decades

On the following images you will see the history of video gaming consoles.

Home consoles before 1970s

history of video games 60s



In 1966 engineer Ralph Baer began experiment with a project to allow consumers to interact with their televisions. Baer and his colleagues referred to the prototypes as boxes and numbered them 1 – 7. The last of which was referred to as “The Brown Box”.

Among the first games was the “Fox and Hounds”. One player controlled a number of WHITE dots which they used to chase and corner the opposing players RED dot. In 1968 Baer went in search of a company to take his product public. The prototype referred to as “The Brown Box” is now in the Smithsonian Institute In Washington D.C.

Home consoles 1971-1975

history of video games 1972-1975

In 1971, Minnesota college students Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger create Oregon Trail, a simulation of pioneers’ westward trek. Originally played on a single teletype machine, Rawitsch later brought the game to the Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium (MECC) which distributed it nationally. Source: Museumofplay

Besides that, in 1971 Magnavox became the first to license Baer’s “TV Game” and developed the Odyssey home video console based on the technology.

Magnavox Odyssey (Released: May, 1972 – Price at launch: $100 ) had no audio output and could only display black and white images. Using translucent screen overlays to simulate color. The Odyssey sold 330,000 Units by 1975.

In 1975, Magnavox Odyssey 100, Magnavox Odyssey 200 and Coleco Telestar consoles were released.

Home consoles 1976-1979

history of video games 1976-1979

In 1977, Atari releases the Atari Video Computer System, more commonly known as Atari 2600. Featuring a joystick, interchangeable cartridges, games in color, and switches for selecting games and setting difficulty levels. It makes millions of Americans home video game players.

In 1978, Taito’s Space Invaders descends on Japan, causing a shortage of 100-yen coins. Within a year, 60000 Space Invaders machines in the United States tempt Americans to spend millions of quarters driving back the seemingly unstoppable ranks of attacking aliens.

In 1979, Toy-maker Mattel supplements its handheld electronic games with a new console, the Intellivision. Intellivision has better graphics and more sophisticated controls than Atari 2600, and players love its sports games. Mattel sells three million Intellivision units.

Video Game Crash of 1977

pong video games

The Video Game Crash of 1977 is both misunderstood and very rarely discussed.

The crash was largely caused by the significant number of Pong clones that flooded both the arcade and home markets. No one wanted to play or buy pong consoles. The crash eventually came to an end with new re-programmable console called Atari 2600. It was not the first Second generation console, however the most successful (sold more than 30 million units).

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo. It was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America.
The Nintendo Entertainment System is an 8-bit home video game console that was developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was initially released in Japan as the Family Computer on July 15, 1983, and was later released in New York City in 1985, and throughout the U.S as well as in Europe and Australia during 1986 and 1987.
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Home consoles since the 1980s

80s video games timeline 1

Video Game Crash of 1983

What caused the Crash of 1983? Over abundance of crappy games?

That’s the worst myth in gaming history. There is no more of an over abundance of bad games then than there is now and in ever generation in between. The crash was caused by a lot of reasons, but none of them were because a few bad games were made that never got shelf space and no one ever played until the 90s when the ROM got dumped.

The crash got kicked off because of a Wall Street Panic on December 7th 1982 where Warner announced that Atari’s profits would see a 10 to 15 percent increase and not the projected 50 percent.

This caused a chain reaction where video game stock soured.

80s video games timeline 2
90s video games timeline 1
90s video games timeline 2

Which video game consoles before 2000s are your favorite?

Composed by: Retroconsole xyz

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis was Sega’s third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released the console as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989.
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