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Tennis for Two

Tennis for Two is a video game developed by William Higinbotham for the 1958 annual exposition at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The original game uses nothing like CPUs or ICs so no digital programming used here, it is at the very, very start of the entire digital revolution after all. Since it is well documented to have really existed and been displayed it is credited as one of the very first video games, if not the first. There may be a very few older video games but at this early stage it comes down to definitions as to what a video game actually is. And whether there needs to be some kind of proof that it actually existed at some time.

‘Tennis for Two’ however is without a doubt a video game: an interactive game using a video display of the time developed for entertainment to give one rudimentary definition. And it was developed to the point where it was being played. So: in 1958 there was a video game around – and with a Vectrex hat on I have to add: a vector game.

This precedes Computer Space on the PDP-1 by a few years – but – it is not a CPU game and never has been emulated in its analog state as far as I am aware. Plus this original state also changed afterwards from what I’ve read. However people do wonder about this very early game and approximations of this game have been developed in recent times to be able to play this using newer hardware.

One reimagining by Windell H. Oskay back in 2007 is for an ATmega168 microprocessor directly outputting for an oscilloscope and using two potentiometers plus buttons just like the original – so input and visuals are close to the original.

This Vectrex version is using this codebase – just outputting on the Vectrex instead of an oscilloscope. Plus using both analog joysticks and calculating the angle shots by the direction these are pointing at instead of potentiometers. Using two potentiometers is still supported (using the X axis to be mapped onto the angle plus button 4: of the controllers) as a fallback option, just in case someone wants to build some Tennis for Two controllers to display this somewhere. And as always: if you do please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help with any changes to make it easier for you.

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