A Brief History of Computing
- Games and gaming computers

© Copyright 1996-2005, Stephen White

(Click here to return to the History Homepage)

1972 Pong released - widely recognised as the first popular arcade video game. It was invented by Atari's founder, Nolan Bushnell, and briefly became reasonably popular. However its lack of excitement or variation meant it never captivated players like Space Invaders (1978) or other arcade games of the 1980s.
1978 Arcade Video game 'Space Invaders' released, starting a video game craze that has continued ever since. In 1979 Atari's Asteroids proved incredibly popular - one notable improvement over Space Invaders was that it allowed the players to record hi-scores, for other players to spend hours trying to beat. By 1982 many of the 'classics' had been released, defender and pac-man, to name a few. The industry was worth $5 billion a year - more than the U.S. movie industry. Although Pong, of 1973, and similar games had been around for several years none were really interesting enough to capture the public - Space Invaders, however, had everything, in a fast action game that pitted you against the computer.
1981 Pacman was written. Originally it was going to be called Puckman, but the name was changed to reduce the damage that could be done by changing the P to an F with a black marker.
1985 Tetris was written by Russian Alexey Pazhitnov. It was later released for various western games machines, the jewel in the crown being its inclusion with Nintendo's Gameboy in 1989. Alexey made nothing from the game, since under the Communist Regime it was owned by the people - although after the collapse of Communism he was able to move to the USA where he now works for Microsoft.
1992 - May Wolfenstein 3D released by Id Software Inc.
1993 Doom was released by Id Software Inc. The PC began to be considered as a serious games playing machine. This was reinforced by another 1993 releases including "Sam and Max Hit the Road", "Alone in the Dark" and "The 7th Guest".
1993 Trilobyte's The 7th Guest marked the beginning of a new level in adventure gaming, with full motion video making a CD-ROM drive an absolute essential. The game was huge, actually filling 2 CDs with blood and gore filled graphics of devils and ghosts. For many PC owners it was this game that finally spurred them into buying a CD-ROM drive for their computer.
1994 Doom II released. This reflected the rapidly increasing quality of games available for the PC - an opinion supported by other major releases in 1994, such as "Alone in the Dark 2", "Theme Park", "Magic Carpet" and "Little Big Adventure" which also helped demonstrate the diversity of games available on the platform. This success of the PC as a games platform was partly due to and partly a cause of significantly increased PC ownership among the 'general public' during the early/mid 1990s.
1994 Command & Conquer released. Other (less significant releases) for the PC included Star Trek 'The Next Generation', Full Throttle, Descent and Terminal Velocity. The advent of 3D graphics cards from Videologic and 3Dfx helped the platform's games status further.
1996 Quake released - representing the dramatic increases in both software and hardware technology since Doom, of 3 years previous. Other notable releases included "Civilization 2", "Command & Conquer - Red Alert", "Grand Prix 2" and "Tomb Raider". On the more controversial front "Battle Cruiser 3000" was also released, but its advertising had to be censored.
1997 "Grand Theft Auto", "Quake 2" and "Blade Runner" were all released while Lara Croft returned in "Tomb Raider 2". As the standards for graphics kept increasing, 3d graphics cards were beginning to become mandatory for games players.
2001 - November 15 Release of the `X' Box - Microsoft's games console. It cost $299 (or £299 - there's fairness), and will include the ability to connect to the internet for multiplayer gaming. The Japanese launch was the 22nd February 2000, and the European launch wasn't until March 14th 2002.

© Copyright 1996-2004, Stephen White My homepage - email:swhite@ox.compsoc.net