Video games have become an entertainment staple and a popular holiday gift, making October a prime month for video game releases, so we decided to devote our October "This Month in Technology" post to video gaming history.
The arcade version of pioneering fight game "Mortal Kombat" game is released by Midway, spawning a series of games released to nearly every home video game platform. It remains one of the most populate fighting games in the genre’s history and was adapted as a film in 1995. Known for extreme violence and gore using realistic digitized graphics, it sparked controversy and resulted in the introduction of age-specific content ratings for video games.
Pac-Man was first released by Midway to arcades in North America on this day. It quickly became a icon of 80’s pop-culture and is one of the most famous video games of all time. More than 350,000 Pac-Man arcade cabinets were sold in the first 18 months and by 1982 nearly 7 billion quarters had been used to play the game. The Pac-Man character has appeared in more than 30 officially licensed spin-offs, including the equally popular Ms. Pac-Man. It is included in the collections of the Smithsonian and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Video Computer System (known as the VCS and later as the Atari 2600) is released by home video gaming pioneer, Atari. By 1997 it was the best-selling Christmas gift that season. It popularized game cartridges containing the game code. Earlier systems could only play games physically built into the unit. The system was originally priced at $199 ($786 adjusted for inflation) and shipped with 2 joysticks and a "Combat" cartridge.
William Higinbotham, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, demonstrated a tennis simulator game he called “Tennis for Two.” It was developed on a Donner Model 30 analog computer using an oscilloscope and is known as the first electronic game to use a graphical display. The game was only shown twice during the laboratory’s annual visitor’s day, but hundreds lined up to play the game.