History page 3
For the next few years, the notion of playing anything similar to a game on a video display languished.
An electrical engineer for the Loral Electronics Company called Ralph Baer did notice, however, that playing with the test patterns on television sets he was working on was fun and he toyed with the idea of adding some kind of game functionality to TV sets. His idea, however, was not met with much enthusiasm by Loral and the notion sat unfulfilled for several more years. Ralph Baer’s story does take an interesting turn in the late sixties though.
But before that, in 1961, a group of engineering students at MIT called the Tech Model Railroad Club were introduced to the Institute’s new mainframe computer, the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor) and one of their members, a self confessed computer nerd called Steve Russell, decided to make a game similar to others he had previously designed. This one would take advantage of the PDP-1’s increased processor speed and large round display. Being big science fiction buffs, Russell and the Club developed a space game where two starships faced off against each other in a game they would title “Space War.” This was a hugely successful game. Students would wait eagerly to play for as long as they could and so Russell developed a system of points that would determine how long one could play for.
Want to play Space War yourself? Check out the simulator here.