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More than a half-century ago, Brookhaven Lab nuclear physicist Willy Higinbotham sought to “liven up the place” with an experiment in entertainment. At BNL’s annual open day in 1958, Higinbotham created what is often credited as the world’s first video game. Hundreds waited in line for a chance to play “Tennis for Two,” an interactive game made from an analog computer, two chunky controllers, and an oscilloscope screen just five inches in diameter.
The visitors, some of the world’s first gamers, saw a two-dimensional, side view of a tennis court on the oscilloscope screen. They served and volleyed using controllers with buttons and rotating dials to control the angle of an invisible tennis racquet’s swing.