October 25, 1910: Happy Birthday William Higinbotham!
If you don’t think it’s possible for the history of video games to date all the way back to 1910, think again. And if you don’t think that the history of video games is littered with controversy, then let’s say hello to William Higinbotham. If the name sounds at all familiar to you, Higinbotham was an American physicist who worked on the development of nuclear bombs during World War II. He is also sometimes credited with having created the very first video game: Tennis for Two (1958).
I say “sometimes” because this last point has been disputed as to whether or not he was the first. The Office of Scientific and Technical Information, part of the U. S. Department of Energy, has it on record that in 1958, Higinbotham created an electronic game of tennis on an oscilloscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory, making it the first video game and Higinbotham the first video game creator. The thing is, it’s also documented that the first interactive electronic game was created on a cathode ray tube in 1947. Some of the interpretation here has to do with the definition of “video game.”
Still, Higinbotham’s Tennis for Two has a very deserving place on the historical timeline of video games. We remember him today on what would have been his 103rd birthday.