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The History of Video Games

In honor of National Video Games Day, we are taking a look at the history behind this beloved pastime. You might be surprised to learn that video games actually got their start in science research labs in the 1950s and 1960s. Scientists created games such as OXO, Spacewar!, and Tennis for Two. Then in 1967, a development team led by Ralph Baer at Sanders Associates, Inc. created a prototype multiplayer, multiprogram videogame system that could be played on a television; it was called “The Brown Box.” In 1972, Magnavox began selling the system to consumers as the Odyssey, the first home video game console. It wasn’t a success, but one of the 28 games included became the inspiration for Atari’s Pong, an arcade game that was later released as a home version in 1975. In 1977, Atari released the Atari 2600, a home console with joysticks and game cartridges that played multi-color video games. This kicked off the second generation of video games, but in 1983, the video game market crashed. Then in 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came to the United States from its native Japan and was a huge success. It featured several key game franchises that are still popular today, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. In the early 1990s, more game consoles debuted, including Sega’s Saturn, Sony’s PlayStation, and Nintendo’s Nintendo 64. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the next generation of competing consoles debuted, including the PlayStation 2, which was the first console that used DVDs, as well as the Sega Dreamcast, the Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft’s Xbox. In the mid-2000s, consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii kicked off modern high-definition gaming. Today, developers are focused on bringing 4K video output and VR (virtual reality) gaming to the market.

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