WTF Fun Fact 13213 – The First Video Game

The first video game ever created was called Tennis for Two. The game was played on an oscilloscope. It was created by physicist William Higinbotham in 1958.

Is Tennis for Two the first video game ever?

“Tennis for Two” is considered to be the first video game ever created, even though we’d hardly recognize it as a video game today.

Developed by physicist William Higinbotham in 1958, the game was played on an oscilloscope and was a simple simulation of a game of tennis (kind of like Pong).

An oscilloscope is an electronic instrument that allows people to visualize electrical signals. In the case of Tennis for Two, the oscilloscope was used to display the game on its screen.

The game consisted of two dots, representing the ball and the paddles, which could be moved up and down by players using knobs. Players would try to hit the dot back and forth across the screen. The game ended when one player failed to hit the dot (or ball) ball back to the other side.

Despite being pretty basic, Tennis for Two laid the foundation for the modern video game industry.

Who played Tennis for Two?

The first video game was created as a demonstration for visitors at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where its creator worked.

“Tennis for Two” was an instant hit with visitors to the laboratory. In fact, the game was played by thousands of people over the course of the next few years and featured in newspapers and magazines, sparking public interest.

Tennis for Two was the first game that allowed players to compete against each other in a virtual environment, and it provided a new way for people to interact with technology. Of course, very few people had the tools to play it.

A forgotten history

Despite its success at the time, Tennis for Two was not developed further. It was eventually forgotten as the video game industry continued to evolve. But it paved the way for the creation of more advanced and sophisticated games.

By the time Pong was created (the game considered to be the first arcade video game), most people didn’t know about its predecessor.

Pong was created in 1972 by Atari, and it could be played on arcade machines or home consoles.

While Tennis for Two is a two-player game, Pong could be a one or two-player game. And while Tennis for Two had no scoring system (the game simply ended when one player failed to hit the dot), Pong kept score. Each time a player fails to hit the ball back, the opponent scores a point. The game ends when one player reaches a certain number of points.  WTF fun facts

Source: “The Complete History of Tennis for Two” — History Computer

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WTF Fun Fact 13006 – Brain Cells Learn To Play Pong

Fun Fact: Lab-grown human and mouse brain cells living in a petri dish became sentient enough to learn to play the video game Pong.
That’s right – scientists found that brain cells learn to play Pong, the 1970s tennis-type video game.

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In news that we don’t find even remotely comforting, brain cells grown in a petri dish have been shown to become sentient enough to learn to play video games. And we’re not kidding when we say that their next plan is to get the brain cells drunk and see what happens.

Sentient brain cells living in a dish

To be clear, these are cells that are living in a petri dish – not a person. They are human cells derived from stem cells and mouse cells derived from embryonic cells. There are 800,000 cells in total involved in the experiment.

Not only have the cells learned to play the game Pong, but they keep improving. “They played longer rallies and were aced less often,” reported The Guardian (cited below). Of course, Pong is a very simple game, which is why the researchers chose it in the first place.

The study that revealed the experiment was just published in the journal Neuron.

The researchers hail from Cortical Labs, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and University College London.

How can brain cells learn to play Pong?

According to The Guardian, the researchers out the cells on something called the “DishBrain,” “a multi-electrode array that can sense cell activity and stimulate the cells, then gave the cells feedback on whether the paddle was hitting the ball.”

Within five minutes the cells started to communicate using electrical activity to operate the game. It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s true.

“Now the researchers will see how the cells perform when they are drunk or given medicines. They hope to use the DishBrain to learn more about conditions such as epilepsy and dementia.”

“This is the new way to think about what a neuron is,” a researcher said.  WTF fun facts

Interested? See for yourself:

Source: “Scientists teach brain cells to play video game Pong” — The Guardian

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