Physicist Willy Higinbotham invents the first "video game" at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. His game, a table tennis-like game, was played on an oscilloscope.
1961 Steve Russell, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), creates Spacewar, the first interactive computer game. It runs on a Digital PDP-1 mainframe computer, and the graphics are made up of ASCII text characters.
1966 Ralph Baer, an engineer at Sanders Associates, receives support from his company (a military electronics consulting firm in NH) to explore his idea of creating interactive games using a television.
1967 Baer and team are successful in creating two interactive TV gamesa chase game and a tennis game. They are also able to manipulate a toy gun so that it detects spots of light on the TV screen.
1970 Magnavox licenses Baer's TV game from Sanders Associates
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney (future founders of Atari) begin their attempt to create an arcade version of Spacewar, calling it Computer Space.
1971 Computer Space becomes first video arcade game ever released. 1500 games are distributed. Public consensus is that it is too difficult to play.
1972 April 25
A U.S. patent is issued to Ralph Baer for "A Television Gaming Apparatus and Method"
Magnavox's Odyssey, the first home video game system, is showcased at a convention in Burlingame, CA, and is released to the public later that year.
Bushnell and Dabney found Atari. They name the company after a term from the Japanese game "Go". "Atari" is equivalent to "check" in a chess game.
Al Alcorn is hired by Atari to program video games. The first game created by Atari is Pong. Ping-Pong, the original name, is already copyrighted, so the makers name it Pong after the sound of a ball hitting the paddle.
1975 Atari's Pong is released with help from Sears Roebuck, which finances the production of 150,000 units. It becomes the hottest selling Christmas present. Sears sells the product exclusively, with the Sears Tele-Games logo.
Gunfight, the first "computer" game is released. It is the first game to use a microprocessor instead of hardwired solid-state circuits.
1976 Coleco releases its first home video-game console called Telstar.
Fairfield Camera & Instrument debuts its Video Entertainment System which is known later as Channel F. The first programmable (cartridge-based) home game console, it allowed users to change games by switching cartridges that resembled 8-track audio tapes.
1977 Atari introduces its first cartridge-based home video system called the Video Computer System which later becomes known as the Atari 2600. It retails for $249.95.
1978 The trackball makes its entrance into the video-game industry as the controller in Atari's new arcade game Football.
Midway introduces Space Invaders into arcades. It is the first arcade game that tracks and displays high scores.
Atari attempts to enter the computer industry to compete with Apple. The product is not taken seriously, and the Atari 400 and 800 are taken from the market.
1979 Atari develops a handheld console that displays holograms. Named "Cosmos," this product was never released.
Asteroids is the first game to allow high scorers to enter three character initials to be stored in the machine.
1980 Mattel's Intelivision debuts and is the first real competitor of the Atari 2600. It has better graphics than Atari's 2600, but a higher retail price ($299).
Activision becomes the first third-party video game vendor. The company is created by Atari programmers who want to receive individual credit for creating Atari's video games.
Battlezone is first 3-D game ever created. It is set in a virtual battlefield and was later enhanced by the U.S. government for training exercises.
300,000 units of Pac-Man are released worldwide by Namco.
Defender, the first game incorporating a "virtual world" is introduced. The game uses a "radar" scope at the top of the screen to inform users of the surroundings since the screen is too small to display all of the action.
1981 Arnie Katz and Bill Kunkel found the first video-game magazine, Electronic Games.
1982 Atari releases the Atari 5200 to compete with Coleco's Colecovision.
1983 Cinematronics debuts Rick Dyer's Dragon Lair, the first video game to feature laser-disc technology.
The Commodore 64 is introduced. It is the most powerful video-game console to date and the least expensive.
Nintendo introduces the Famicom in Japanlater known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the U.S. Since Atari controls such a large percentage of the market, they do not plan to market the product in the U.S. Instead the company offers Atari the rights to distribute the product in the U.S. These plans fall through and Americans do not see Nintendo until 1985.
The popular game Tetris is developed by Russian programmer Alex Pajitnov. It is played on a PC.
1986 Nintendo's NES is released in the U.S. after being test-marketed in NY one year earlier.
To compete with the NES, Sega introduces the Sega Master System (SMS).
Atari releases the Atari 7800 to stay competitive in the market.
1989 Nintendo releases the handheld Game Boy for $109.
NEC releases the first 16-bit console in the U.S. It is called the TurboGrafx-16 and sold for $189. It is the first example of a video game stored on a compact disc.
The true arcade experience comes into American homes when Sega debuts the Genesis, its first 16-bit home game console, for $249.95.
Atari tries to enter the handheld market with the Lynx, a color handheld console retailing for $149.
1991 Super NES is released in the U.S. by Nintendo for $249.95.
1993 Atari releases the Jaguar, attempting to be the first 64-bit console on the market. The product actually runs two 32-bit processors.
Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Herbert Kohl of Wisconsin launch a Senate investigation into violence in video games, hoping to initiate a ban on violent games.
1994 Resulting from the Senate investigation, the Entertainment Software Rating Board is created. Rating are now given to video games and are marked on the games' packaging to indicate the suggested age of players and violent content.
In Japan, the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation make their debut.
Sony brings the PlayStation to the U.S. and sells the console for $299.
Nintendo releases the Nintendo 64 in Japan (it's released in the U.S. in 1996).
1996 Arcades focus on bringing in more "ride-and-video" games like skiing, snowboarding, and Jet Skiing, as their popularity has surpassed the popularity of shooting and fighting games.
Atari's founder, Nolan Bushnell, reenters the industry making Internet stations for arcades and bars.
The Tamagotchi virtual pet becomes an instant sensation in Japan. It is released in the U.S. in May of that year selling all of its 30,000-unit supply in 3 days.
1997 PlayStation is considered by many in the industry as most popular game console as the 20 millionth unit is sold.
Tiger introduces a multipurpose handheld console to compete with the Game Boy. Called game.com, it features games, an address book, calculator, and stylus for touchscreen capability. It also connects to a PC modem for access to email.
Arizona attempts to restrict the distribution of violent video games by making it illegal to display or distribute violent material to minors. The proposed bill was not approved.
1998 Sega introduces the Dreamcast in Japan. This console operates on Microsoft Windows CE which will allow for easier conversions between Dreamcast and PC games.
The Wal-Mart retail chain decides to ban over 50 video games that it deems inappropriate for minors.
1999 Billy Mitchell attains a score of 3,333,360 in the game Pac-Man. This is the highest possible score a player can get.
As a result of the shootings that occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Sega announces that it will not release a light gun with the Dreamcast in the U.S. In addition, it prevents use of imported guns with American consoles, which forces the Americans to use standard controllers to play the popular House of the Dead 2.
2000 Sony's PlayStation 2 launched in the U.S. for $299.99 and was sold out by early morning. Since the demand was so high and only 500,000 units were available, it was very difficult to buy a unit during this first shipment.
2001-and beyond The X-box and Game Cube Releaed in November 2001. The Highest Quality and best graphics that hit the market since the Playsation one lauched in 1995 and Sega Saturn Launched in 1996-1996. The Future of Video games will never be the same in the future.