All Things Printed & Recorded: Video Games Come Into Play

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For August, it’s all fun and games—video games, to be exact.

1940  A computer playing the traditional game Nim is displayed at the World’s Fair.
1958  A tennis game played using an analog computer and an oscilloscope is demonstrated at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
1962  Spacewar, the first computer-based video game, is invented by an MIT student.
1975  Atari partners with Sears to release its arcade game Pong for the home market.
1985  Nintendo’s NES revives an ailing American video game industry two years after its original release in Japan, where it was called Famicom.
1995  Sony releases PlayStation in the United States. When PlayStation 2 debuts in 2000, it becomes the dominant home console.
2001  Microsoft enters the market with Xbox and hit games like Halo. Xbox 360 would debut four years later.


  • In 1966, engineer Ralph Baer conceived the idea that video games could be played on a television. The next year he developed a prototype called the Brown Box, and his ideas eventually led to the 1972 release of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game system.
  • Atari released the Video Computer System, known today as the 2600, in 1977. Featuring a joystick, games in color, and switches for selecting games and setting difficulty levels, it turned millions of Americans into home video game players.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
book Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation, by Blake J. Harris
book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, by Tom Bissell
book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, by Jason Schreier
book Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft and More, by Dustin Hansen
book Replay: The History of Video Games, by Tristan Donovan
book Art of Atari, by Tim Lapetino
book Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
book The Impossible Fortress, Jason Rekulak
slate_film-512 WarGames
slate_film-512 The King of Kong
music-note-21 Pac-Man Fever, Buckner & Garcia