Spacewar! exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image
A new exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image
- The Museum of the Moving Image's Spacewar! exhibit opened on December 15th.
- A model of the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1) which Steve Russell used in 1961 at MIT to create Spacewar!
- The CRT monitor of the PDP-1 (left), and the typewriter (right) used for text input.
- Spacewar! is a two player game that Russell says took about 200 hours to write.
- The controls for Spacewar! were custom made as no game controllers yet existed. Spacewar! was a hit on college campuses.
- Spacewar! with the bright green, custom built Computer Space cabinet in the background.
- Computer Space was the first arcade game to be featured in a movie, Soylent Green.
- Computer Space cabinets were also manufactured in glittery dark blue.
- Though Nutting Associates was unhappy with sales of Computer Space, Bushnell considered the 3 million dollars it made a success.
- The basic gameplay of Computer Space is deceptively simple and shockingly difficult.
- Computer Space was followed in 1977 by Larry Rosenthal's Space Wars. The game is notable for its complex buttons and controls.
- Rosenthal, an MIT graduate, based Space Wars directly on Spacewar! His version had many gameplay options.
- Asteroids was released in 1979 to great popularity and success. The basic goal of the game is to destroy incoming asteroids and occasional flying saucers.
- Asteroids inspired 1980's Battlezone, considered one of the earliest virtual reality games for its use of viewing goggles.
- Many of the cabinets in the exhibit show signs of their age, and require periodic servicing to remain operational.
- The exhibit is interactive and all of the games are playable, for a 25 cent custom token.
- Most of the cabinets, which weigh up to 300 pounds each, have colorful graphic artwork running down their sides.
- 1981's Cold War-inspired Missile Command features three main firing buttons and a large trackball for the player to defend cities from incoming ballistic missiles.
- Unlike most games which display a "Game Over" screen when a player loses, Missile Command displays a screen which ominously proclaims "The End."
- 1980's Defender, 1978's Space Invaders, and 1981's Missile Command are three of the most successful arcade games of the Golden Age.
- Space Invaders was released by Taito in Japan and Bally Midway in the United States.
- 1978's Space Invaders was inspired by H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and popularized the use of microprocessors in arcade games.
- 1983's Star Wars is an early example of a cockpit-style, sit down video game. It also notably makes use of digitized sampled voices of many characters from the movie.
- Star Wars was an early success in branded gaming tie-ins with popular films.
- The Spacewar! exhibit continues through March 3, 2013.