History page 2



The year is 1952 and Alexander S. Douglas is writing up his Phd. at Cambridge University in England regarding human-computer interaction. He decides to create a simple game of Noughts and Crosses (also known as Tic-Tac-Toe whose origins, ironically, do go back to the Roman Empire) on the EDSAC computer.




Inputting the following code on a 5 hole punched paper tape, he manages to load up the familiar Tic-Tac-Toe 9-position boxes on the EDSAC’s display. Players then select in which box they wish to place an X or an O with a rotary telephone dial. This was the first time a game is played on a monitor device. The only known previous game like this was found as part of a patent made in 1947 – 48 that describes a missile simulation game to be played on a cathode ray tube. As of yet, no records can be found of this older game.








Want to play Alexander Douglas’es Naughts and Crosses yourself? Check out the simulator here.



The first time a game would be played on a screen more closely resembling a video display would not occur until six years later. It was 1958 and William A. Higinbotham, a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, decided to make something to entertain visitors to the lab.






Every autumn, an open house was held at the lab to invite the public in to see what kind of work was being done. Higinbotham noticed that most of the public were not impressed with the photographs and flowcharts displayed for their benefit. He decided to rig up a little fun circuit on his oscilloscope to engage people and let them play a little game, much like the pinball machines he himself enjoyed.










Since the general purpose of Tennis for Two was to entertain the public coming in to view the lab, Higinbotham never considered patenting or licensing the circuit. Tennis for Two was later disassembled and forgotten.

The game was dubbed “Tennis for Two” and consisted of a white ball bouncing in the center of the screen that two players could control. Unlike other tennis-style games that would follow, this game was a side view perspective, and it was very basic. It had no score, and displayed on a tiny 5” oscilloscope display, yet it proved to be immensely popular. People lined up outside the lab in order to play it.

Want to play Tennis for Two yourself? Check out the simulator here.

Want to build your own Tennis for Two circuit? Click here to see the schematic. Some observers have thought this schematic was incomplete, however a recent contact from the Brookhaven National Laboratory has read over the circuit and had the following comment.

If you look at the drawing number for each of the drawings in the lower right corner, the numbers are "EH1-900-1-3" and "EH1-900-2-3". This looks like the drawings are numbered to be "one of three" and "two of three" if you look at the last two numbers in each main number. But the last number, "3", in each one refers to the SIZE of the drawing. Each schematic was drawn on a "Size 3" vellum sheet. So I believe people are misinterpreting the drawing number to mean that there is a missing "3rd" drawing, when there are only really 2 drawing sheets.

Thus, it proves that this is the complete circuit for making Tennis for Two.















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