|No mouse, no sound, no graphics, no color, no motion ...||... pure text, pure imagination.|
|awari.exe||(42 kB)||Sheikhs use diamonds for this game; beans are fine, too.|
|hamurabi.exe||(36 kB)||Origin of all the ecology games.|
|rocket.exe||(42 kB)||Lunar landig simulation.|
|startrek.exe||(85 kB)||Captain Kirk forever.|
|tower.exe||(41 kB)||Moving disks like the monks of Hanoi.|
|wumpus.exe||(44 kB)||Hunt the horrible monster in his cave.|
|corral.exe||(38 kB)||Equine psychology.|
|lissajou.exe||(37 kB)||Create Dollar waves.|
|pinball.exe||(52 kB)||Famous name for little game.|
David H. Ahl|
"BASIC Computer Games, Microcomputer Edition"
Computer games are not a new phenomenon. Back in 1952 shortly after the first commercial computers were introduced, A. L. Samuel at IBM wrote a checkers program for the IBM 701. It was written with the idea that a great deal could be learned about the human thought process if one could simulate it on a computer. This also was the reason that Newell, Shaw, and Simon a few years later at Rand Corporation wrote the first computer chess program. But even to those uninitiated in the field of artificial intelligence research, these programs were great fun as games even if they didn't play outstanding chess or checkers.
But while these programs were being written as part of research projects, a much larger group of people were furtively writing and playing games at lunchtime and before and after work on their employers' computers. There were at least two or three of these fanatical game players, sometimes more, at each computer installation of any size. The advent of the minicomputer and timesharing networks in the early 1960's expanded this community of computer hackers and by 1966 they were meeting at various professional society meetings and laying out plans for a computer chess tournament.
The hard core of the hackers, the real cultists, were those that were into Spacewar. Originally written by some hackers at the MIT EE Department back in 1961-62 for a DEC PDP-1, the first minicomputer, Spacewar spawned a fanatical community of hackers who played, modified, improved and experimented with it.
"Ah, Spacewar. Reliably at any nighttime moment, hundreds of computer technicians are effectively out of their bodies, computer-projected onto CRT display screens, locked in life-or-death space combat for hours at a time, ruining their eyes, numbing their fingers in frenzied mashing of control buttons, joyously slaying their friends and wasting their employers' valuable computer time. Something basic is going on." (Stewart Brand in "II Cybernetic Frontiers", 1974)
Item: October 10, 1972. The PDP-10 at the Stanford Al Laboratory is reserved from 8:00 p.m. on for the "Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics."
Item: October 1976. Cromemco announces Spacewar for the 8080 and TV Dazzler. Paper tape $15.00.
In layman's terms what those two items mean is that in the short span of four years Spacewar went from a game that required the use of a multi-million dollar computer to a game that could be played on a $1,000 home computer.
What happens to a fanatical cult when you open the temple doors and let everyone take its source into their own homes? Obviously, we don't know since the temple hasn't been open that long, but it seems obvious that this same generation of kids that can't do manual math or use a slide rule because of the pocket calculator may learn that a TV set can throw some actively challenging things their way instead of just a passive picture.