It isn’t a Super Mario game, or any of the retro titles you were familiar with. The first ever video game in history was a 1958 tennis game similar to the 1970s game Pong. Tennis For Two was created in 1985 by physicist William Higinbotham, as Ryan Fan detailed:
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He wanted to capture visitors’ interests by creating an interactive demonstration, later telling reporters that:
“It might liven up the place to have a game that people could play, and which would convey the message that our scientific endeavors have relevance for society.”
The game simply involved players adjusting a knob to alter the angle of the ball, and then pushing a button to hit it to another player. They couldn’t miss the ball as long as they pressed the button when it was on their side of the net, but if they angled it poorly, it could hit the net or be out of bounds.
There was nothing fancy about the game, and the graphics simply had a cathode ray tube display that had two lines, one representing the ground, and another representing the net. The ball was just a dot.
Players couldn’t even keep score. They had to do that themselves. The circuitry of the game involved resistors, capacitors, and relays, and it used some transistors for fast switching, especially when the ball was in play.
image via Medium