Arcade game:Two-Player Computer Space Arcade

Nutting Associates1971

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

In 1971, Nutting Associates released Computer Space, the world's first coin-operated video arcade game in history. Computer Space was based on one of the earliest interactive computer games: Spacewar! A group of students at MIT called the Tech Model Railroad Club- TMRC- created the two-player game in the 1960s. Spacewar! consisted of an outer-space battle between each player's spaceship. The game was complete with an accurate star map in the background, a gravitational field around the sun, and a hyperspace button that allowed players to escape their enemy.
Nolan Bushnell, the future founder of the video game giant Atari, turned Spacewar! into a video arcade game. By building a computer devised solely to play his game and simply connecting it to a black and white television for a monitor, Bushnell was able to make an inexpensive, working prototype of his game. The game maintained most of the rules and programming details of its predecessor except that it was now a one-person game. Instead of battling another person, the player fought against two enemy saucers controlled by the computer.
Although significant as the first coin-op arcade video game, Computer Space was unsuccessful commercially. It failed to appeal to the masses because of its difficulty for casual gamers. The game's large manual explaining the complexities of its realistic gravitational field and outer-space physics deterred interest in the game.
Nonetheless, Computer Space began an era that would transform the pinball arcade into a video game arcade. The sleek, modern shaping of the cabinet of Computer Space matched the game that bore the future of the video arcade game industry. It established the model for the structure of all future arcade video games; a large, rectangular cabinet, complete with speakers and a control panel, enclosing the computer and monitor. As the archetype of the video arcade game industry, Computer Space holds a unique place in the history of electronic games.

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  • Title: Arcade game:Two-Player Computer Space Arcade
  • Creator: Nutting Associates
  • Date Created: 1971
  • Location: USA
  • Subject Keywords: video game, electronic game, arcade game
  • Type: Arcade Games
  • Medium: fiberglass, metal, plastic
  • Object ID: 115.4748