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Resurrecting Tennis for Two, a video game from 1958

v3| by Rachid on 2008-07-18 00:00:29    (7646) rating

In the year 1958-- fourteen years before the 1972 debut of Pong-- a physicist named William Higinbotham demonstrated a remarkable video game called Tennis for Two.

Higinbotham, head of the Instrumentation Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory, designed his game as an exhibit to improve what was an otherwise lackluster visitors' day at the lab. Tennis for Two presented a tennis court-- shown from the side-- on an oscilloscope screen, where handheld controllers allowed the two players to toss the ball to each other. Each controller had two controls: a button and a knob. With the button, you could hit the ball at any time of your choosing when it was on your side of the net, and with the knob you could choose the angle at which the ball was hit.

The game was based on the best contemporary technology: analog electronic computers built out of op-amps, relays, and the occasional transistor. It took Higinbotham and his technicians several weeks to design and build the game. Of course, some things have changed over the last 50 years. Using convenient modern electronics, we have designed a functional and playable replica of the original that can be put together by a hobbyist in a couple of evenings.

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