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Episode 1780             Episode 1782
Episode 1781

Computer Space
Mon, 2022-Mar-21 00:07 UTC
Length - 3:49

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Monday, 21 March 2022 is Computer Space.

Computer Space is a space combat arcade game developed in 1971. Created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in partnership as Syzygy Engineering, it was the first arcade video game as well as the first commercially available video game. Computer Space is a derivative of the 1962 computer game Spacewar!, possibly the first video game to spread to multiple computer installations. It features a rocket controlled by the player engaged in a missile battle with a pair of hardware-controlled flying saucers set against a starfield background. The goal is to score more hits than the enemy spaceships within a set time period, which awards a free round of gameplay. The game is enclosed in a custom fiberglass cabinet, which Bushnell designed to look futuristic.

Bushnell and Dabney designed the game in 1970–71 to be a coin-operated version of Spacewar!. After the pair were unable to find a way to economically run the game on a minicomputer such as the Data General Nova, they hit upon the idea of instead replacing the central computer with custom-designed hardware created to run just that game. While they were working on an early proof of concept, Bushnell found a manufacturer for the game in Nutting Associates. Working in partnership with Nutting, the pair completed the game and ran their first location test in August 1971, a few months prior to the display of a similar prototype called Galaxy Game, also based on Spacewar!. It was first shown to industry press and distributors at the annual Music Operators of America (MOA) Expo in October. With encouraging initial interest, though mixed responses from distributors, Nutting ordered an initial production run of 1,500 units, anticipating a hit game.

While the game was successful and validated Syzygy's belief in the future of arcade video games, selling over 1,000 cabinets by mid-1972 and ultimately 1,300–1,500 units, it was not the runaway success that Nutting had hoped for. The game spawned one clone game, Star Trek (1972), and Nutting produced a two-player version of Computer Space in 1973 without involvement from Bushnell and Dabney. The pair left Nutting in June 1972 and incorporated Syzygy as Atari, launching the successful Pong (1972) as their next arcade game. Computer Space's release marked the ending of the early history of video games and the start of the commercial video game industry.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:07 UTC on Monday, 21 March 2022.

For the full current version of the article, see Computer Space on Wikipedia.

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This has been Kimberly Neural. Thank you for listening to featured Wiki of the Day.

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