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Industry Bio: William Higinbotham

Blake Snow

Joystiq presents Volume 2 of who's-who in the video game industry.

William Higinbotham, born 1910, is credited for creating the first video game. Tennis for Two, which is similar to the classic Pong, was created while at work using an oscilloscope in 1958. The game was used during visitor days at Brookhaven National Laboratory and was quite the crowd- pleaser, though only having a five inch display (still larger than a PSP display).

In regards to controversy surrounding the game's accreditation, Brookhaven National Laboratory writes: "In retrospect, Higinbotham agreed he should have applied for a patent. But if he had, the patent would have belonged to the Federal government, and no riches would have come his way, anyway. The reason he did not apply, was that at the time, it didn't seem to be any more novel than the bouncing ball circuit in the instruction book."

Mr. Higinbotham was a physicist and first chairman of the Federation of American Scientists working heavily in electronics. He earned his undergraduate degree from Williams College in 1932 and went on to study at Cornell University and MIT. He died on November 10, 1994.

So the first known video game was created on the job. No wonder Solitaire is arguably the most widely played game in existence. As a collective gamer nation some millions strong, many thanks, Willy!

See Also:
Volume 1: Trip Hawkins

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