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CED in the History of Media Technology


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Computer Space Game In Soylent Green

1971: Computer Space - The First Arcade Video Game

Seen on the right above is Computer Space the very first arcade video game released by Nutting Associates in 1971. The game was rather simple in design compared to later arcade games, as the display was nothing more than a 13" GE Television housed in a fiberglass cabinet with a single external board for the game electronics and a paint can as the receptacle for quarters fed into the machine. The game was actually derived from a game called Spacewar that originated in 1962 on a DEC PDP-1 at MIT. The designer of Computer Space was Nolan Bushnell who released the better known PONG arcade game the following year. PONG had been rejected by the game manufacturer Bally, who later made the CED game NFL Football, but Bushnell decided to have his newly formed Atari Corp. manufacture it after the prototype became completely stuffed with quarters on the first day of field testing.

The picture above is from the CED movie Soylent Green which showed the Computer Space cabinet in several scenes, including a close-up of the game play 08:27 into Side 1 of the disc. This movie was released in 1973, and was actually set in the year 2022, but the concept of video games was still novel enough in 1973 that the scenario was plausible. Indeed the sculpted appearance of the fiberglass cabinet still has a futuristic look compared to the squared-off cabinets that have since dominated the video game industry.


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