Spacewar! (was Re: Laser display...)

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Thu Feb 17 12:13:03 2005

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005, Eric Smith wrote:

> "Tennis for Two" by Willy Higinbotham and Robert Dvorak of Brookhaven
> National Laboratory in 1958 is often cited as an early video game, but
> there is apparently some controversy as some people don't consider it to
> be a true video game. I don't know enough about it to offer an opinion.

On the one side is Ralph Baer and his loyal cadre of Yes-men. On the
other side is reality.

I like Ralph Baer and have communicated with him many times. He's a very
smart and very decent guy. But he's completely wrong when it comes to
Tennis for Two.

Baer makes the entirely arbitrary assertion that Tennis for Two was not a
videogame because "it can't be played on a standard home TV set".

He goes on to say that "by definition, video games use video displays"
which he goes on to qualify as "ordinary TV sets or TV monitors". This is
like saying a Guppy isn't a fish because it isn't a Trout.

Ralph just wants to take as much credit as he can get for inventing the
video game. His accomplishments are enough that he doesn't need to
strongarm Higginbotham out of the picture, so I don't understand the
hostility he exhibits towards the Tennis for Two game and the zeal with
which he tries to hang on to the self-appointed title of "Inventor of the

Pong Story has a new bit of information I've never seen before.
Apparently, in 1952 a PhD candidate wrote his thesis on human-computer
interaction and used the EDSAC's memory tubes to display a tic-tac-toe


Even though Pong Story oozes with fanatical admiration of Baer (have a
paper towel ready to wipe off the top of your desk after your visit to the
site), it's still a good place to get information about early video games.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
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Received on Thu Feb 17 2005 - 12:13:03 GMT

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