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Manic Monday: "Tennis For Two"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tennis for Two was a game developed in 1958 on an oscilloscope which simulated a game of tennis or ping pong. Created by American physicist William Higinbotham, it was based on analog, rather than digital computing. The game is important in the history of video games as one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display.

Higinbotham created Tennis for Two to cure the boredom of visitors to Brookhaven National Laboratory, in which he worked. Tennis for Two was a predecessor of Pong, one of the most widely recognized video games as well as one of the first, though there was no direct correlation between the two. Tennis for Two was only brought out twice, on "Visitor's Day" at the Laboratory. As such, it remained virtually unheard of until the late 1970s and early 1980s when Higinbotham was called on to testify in court cases for defendants against Magnavox and Ralph Baer. Unlike Pong and similar early games, Tennis for Two shows a simplified tennis court from the side instead of a top-down perspective, with no representation of the player on the screen. The ball is affected by gravity and must be played over the net. The game was controlled by an analog computer and "consisted mostly of resistors, capacitors and relays, but where fast switching was needed – when the ball was in play – transistor switches were used.

Posted by Shelia

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