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Celebrating the Video Game: From Pong to Space Invaders and Beyond

Video games have come a long way since Pong over 50 years ago.
Like it or not, video games have been part of the global culture for the past half century, and are here to stay. Here's some key milestones in the history of this constantly evolving entertainment medium.

September 12 is National Video Games Day, when video game fans—and there are many—choose to celebrate a favorite past time.

Because the history of video games has largely been tied to advances in electronics, it is no surprise that the roots of video games can be traced to the 1950s and 1960s—the early days of transistors—when computer scientists at the time designed simple games and simulations on minicomputers and mainframe computers. One of first games on a video display was Spacewar! in 1962.

The first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was released in 1972, playing Atari's Pong. Years later, Pac-Man and Space Invaders became household names.

The rise of the personal computer in the 1980s, subsequent technology shifts in media, and the rise of the Internet are some of the inflection points that transformed video games in recent decades. In the current millennium, the rise of mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets have made gaming available to a larger population segment.

While video games have been often been criticized for many reasons, ranging from excessive violence in some games to being a time-wasting addiction for others, the medium is a huge cash cow, generating $60 billlion in revenue in 2021, according to the NPD Group. Video games are not going away anytime soon.

The following gallery shows some of the twists and turns in video games over the years.

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]

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