In what may come as a surprise to many modern gamers, video games did not simply crop up in the 1970′s as many people believe. Instead, there was a long, slow development that first started happening back at the very tail end of the 1940′s when the large room sized mainframe computers were still what people thought of when they thought about computers. On these sprawling machines, code would be written for the first types of games that took their inspiration from the military – one of the first places that computers were used. Missile defense was the first type of game that was very simple in terms of its controls, mimicking real military strategies at intercepting missiles. This was the foundation point and once students in universities began to have access to similar machines in the school labs, imagination would take games forward through the 1950′s with a handful of very small and barely remembered games such as Space Wars. These early titles were not made available to the general public and so, as a result, very little is known about them.
The 1960′s did not prove to show much innovation that the public was aware of, but by the 1970′s, things had begun to change in a huge way and stand up, coin operated video games began to be possible. These first machines were powered by quarters and although the first title, Computer Space, was a bit too difficult for many to get into, when Asteroids, Space Invaders and eventually Pac Man hit the scene, things would prove to be much different for these arcade games. Their popularity would rise quickly and at the same time, more technology was becoming available to make what came to be called console games which could be played using a television set that already existed within the consumer’s home. The Odyssey from Magnavox was the first such system and it sold well enough that it paved the way for a whole wave of different video game systems which would be brought out in the years to come. In parallel with these console systems, computers were also made smaller and companies such as Commodore, Tandy and Apple came out with impressive machines that played games nearly as complicated, sometimes even more so, than the arcade or console games.
However, it would be the 1980′s that would be the decade of greatest change for this industry that was still in its infancy. During this era, technology would begin to grow at a lightning pace and a huge number of innovations would mean computers got smaller and smaller. Hand held games became possible thanks to LCD screens that helped them be portable and there would be more systems coming out from companies other than Atari, the first big console gaming system. Nintendo and Sega would each release impressive systems for home use and arcades would become big business in the United States, Europe and especially Japan. The game industry grew like crazy and it threatened to outshine the music and movie business in terms of consumer spending.
Then came the 1990′s and here computers became wide spread in nearly every house across the United States and Japan, taking computer gaming to whole new levels with online play, as well. Console systems from Sony and Microsoft hit the market and new generations of console games came out to dazzle the eye. The arcade industry began a gradual decline until it became a rare thing in the early 2000′s. Today the computer and video game industry outdoes the film and music businesses on every level, making it the largest entertainment segment in the world.