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Manufacturer Nutting Associates (Mountain View, CA)
designer Nolan Bushnell
Identification,ID COMPUTER SPACE
Date of first manufacture1970
Number produced ?
Estimated price or cost-
location in museum -
donor Alan Rifkin

Contents of this page:

information in this page is from Computer Museum History Center "CORE" 1.3


Computer Space, the first commercial coin-operated video game
Computer Space



Special features

Historical Notes
from Computer Museum History Center "CORE" 1.3




While Pong (1972) is often called the "First Arcade Video Game," the title rightfully belongs to Computer Space, developed a year earlier in 1971 by Nolan Bushnell for Nutting Associates of Mountain View, California. The game closely resembled Steven "Slug" Russell's SpaceWar!, developed at MIT in the early 1960s for play on the DEC PDP-1. Computer Space featured two ships gliding through star-filled space trying to shoot down opponents with missiles. The black and white monitor and console speakers seem quite primitive by today's game standards, but in the 1970s, these were far more sophisticated than anything else that was being played in pinball- dominated arcades.

Perhaps the best reason Pong gets all the attention is the fact that not many people played Computer Space with its complex controls. Pong, possibly the easiest of the early video games, sold more than 100,000 units, while Computer Space sold less than 3,000 units. Realizing that the game itself may have been too complex for most users of the day, Nutting Associates then tried unsuccessfully to market the game in a "Beautiful Space-Age Cabinet" with attendant scantily-dressed model.

After the failure of Computer Space, Bushnell formed Atari (originally called Syzygy), and released the wildly popular Pong game in 1972. Atari went on to become the dominant video game company through the early 1980s. After selling Atari to Warner Brothers, Bushnell later founded Pizza Time Theatres and Sendai Electronic Games. ::

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Chris Garcia is Historical Collections Coordinator at The Computer Museum History Center

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Updated May 27, 2001