The History of Video Games: 1947 – 1954

The History of Video Games: 1947 – 1954

The late 1940’s and early 1950’s are the early, early history of video games. The programs created almost 70 years ago are barely even games by todays standards. But they are still games in some respects, and their importance to the history of video games cannot be understated. This video looks at the history of video games from 1947 through 1954, covering a few of the most important “games” and people from those years. This is… The History of Video Games: 1947 – 1954.

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The History of Video Games: 1947 – 1954 (in text form)

Oxford’s definition of a “video game” is “A game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen.” With that in mind, starting with a game like Pong wouldn’t be fair to the games that came before it. So we have to go back, way back, to the 1940’s. The earliest know interactive electronic game was the cathode-ray tube amusement device, invented by Thomas T Goldsmith Jr and Estle Ray Mann. When it was invented is a mystery lost to time, but a patent was filed in early 1947 for the device. It’s not technically a video games because it uses no actual computing, just analog hardware. Despite that fact, 1947 is when my history of video games officially begins.

A few years later, in 1950, another very basic game was created, called Bertie the Brain, developed by Josef Kates. Bertie the Brain was a tic-tac-toe game with an adjustable difficulty and electronic display, and the user could play against the computer or Artificial Intelligence, as it’s sometimes referred. Bertie the Brain was part of a 2 week exhibition, allowing people to play it. Unfortunately, it was dismantled soon after the exhibition due to Kates not having the energy to spare to preserve it.

Not even a year later, the Nimrod computer was created. Nimrod gets its name from the game it plays, Nim. I don’t know much about Nim, as it’s mathematical sort of game, and I never cared for math. Nimrod was designed by John Bennett, who is notable because was was Australia’s first professor of computer science. The Nimrod is notable due to it being the earliest known computer game to have any sort of visual interface. 3 weeks after being shown in October 1951, Nimrod was dismantled.

Not long after the Nimrod’s untimely dismantling, the first game to use a CRT display was created. It was a checkers game created by Christopher Strachey. Strachey developed the Combined Programming Language in the early 1960’s. BCPL, which originally stood for Bootstrap CPL, was later developed as a much simpler version of CPL. BCPL led to the B programming language, which influenced the C programming Language which is one of the most popular programming languages used today, depending on who you ask.

Strachey’s checkers game was created on the Ferranti Mark 1. The Ferranti Mark 1 was the world’s first commercially available electronic computer. While modern computers can do it in seconds, the Ferranti Mark 1’s chess game analyzed the board to check for every possible move, of which there were thousands. It usually took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. The game was also not a complete chess game. The Ferranti couldn’t handle that. Instead, the game was what’s known as a “mate in two chess problem”. Mate-in-two is essentially where a checkmate must happen within two moves. The University of Toronto purchased the Mark 1 in 1952 for a measly $30,000, which is almost $270,000 today.

In 1954, the first game to use graphics was created. And by graphics, I mean that the graphics updated in real time as the game went on. It was a pool game created by William Brown and Ted Lewis. It was created solely for demonstration purposes for the MIDSAC computer at the University of Michigan.

That takes us to the end of 1954. By this time, games advanced from simple analog hardware to games with graphics that updated in real-time. In the next episode, we’ll start the more well known early games, starting with Tennis for Two.


  1. Marshall Mee on October 6, 2021 at 8:07 am

    Thanks dude!! really cool information!! I’m glad someone has done some research!

  2. Dillon Howells on October 6, 2021 at 8:10 am


  3. Logo Archive Collection Company on October 6, 2021 at 8:12 am

    Video Game History
    Year | Event
    365 BC | King of Egypt discovers the new apparent button for today’s gaming power.
    AD 21 | Roman emperor discovers the new gaming joystick.
    AD 83 | Trajan discovers the new device.
    105 | New device is Anicillin.
    260 | Introduction of chess game.
    984 | New strip of gaming time is discovered.
    1321 | Handheld device is discovered.
    1606 | The Spanish discover the new electric device.
    1750 | New device of ROD discovered.
    1912 | New scanning game disk is invented.
    1922 | New scan of device introduced.
    1926 | New video game introduced, “Scanning Game Device”.
    1928 | Games newly introduced.
    1947 | Cathode ray tube amusement device (AD-model) is introduced.
    1950 | Bertie the Brain invented.
    1983 | Video game crash of 1983.
    – |
    1986 |
    2000 | Millennial gaming starts.
    2020 | Ninth generation starts.

  4. Markus Gaming on October 6, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Tthat old vidieo game is shit

  5. 1960s Cartoons on October 6, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Good thing you didin’t have to buy dlc

  6. tsoawwcb on October 6, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Hello you bag of beautifulness 🙂

  7. DragoniteSpam on October 6, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Weird, so there were a _lot_ of electronic games that came before Pong. This should be a fun series 😀

  8. patrick star7 on October 6, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Wait we live in 1954? It thought it was 2018

  9. Kong David on October 6, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Im jackin to this video

  10. Eli Malinsky on October 6, 2021 at 8:26 am

    The 1951Checkers game does not fit the definition of a video game as there was no video output. There were fixed light bulbs on a board corresponding to a physical checkers board. The lights would light according to the moves made by the computer and the human player had to input his moves through a dedicated interface. OXO from 1952 was the first game to output to a CRT based grid monitor, even though vector displays as far back as 1949 were hooked up to computers to manipulate the drawing of lines to assist with monitoring the instructions sequence fed into the extremely limited computer memory via punch cards. There was not enough memory or computing power for real-time output, so games were impractical.
    A chess-playing program written around 1950-1951 using machine code was soon abandoned because the computer took about 2 hours to make his first move, but the logic for playing checkers was much simpler and could be achieved as shown here.

  11. Linus Magnus on October 6, 2021 at 8:33 am

    OXO game? Tennis for two?

  12. Josh Harrison on October 6, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Very cool a lot of this I did not know. keep the great videos coming

  13. Joseph Welch on October 6, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Keep up the good work!

  14. BlueFieldGamer on October 6, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Someone should steam nimrod in twitch 😂

  15. Liberal bias on October 6, 2021 at 8:43 am

    So video games are an American invention sweet.

  16. Tikal The Whimsicott on October 6, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Can you beat Berney the brain without taking any damage?

  17. Assassɨn on October 6, 2021 at 8:45 am

    1:Tennis for Two

  18. Rhodri Johns on October 6, 2021 at 8:50 am
  19. ShadowFighter Z on October 6, 2021 at 8:50 am

    what is the next game after 1954 ?

  20. Qurek on October 6, 2021 at 8:52 am

    This picture of cathode-ray tube amusement device is actually picture of PDP-1 computer with SpaceWar! on it. There are no pictures of CRTAD on the whole Internet.

  21. CricketStyleJ on October 6, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Still waiting for the HD remaster of Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device.

  22. Axel Leach on October 6, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Love your videos, keep it up!

  23. Kieran Stark on October 6, 2021 at 8:54 am

    I wonder what the sound effects of gaming in the very middle of the 20th Century (1947-1954) were like!

  24. freddy fazbear destroyer on October 6, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Who is watching this in 2018
    Follow the hand and click it if your watching in 2018

  25. Joseph Welch on October 6, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Keep up the good work!

  26. Nathan's Ultimate Channel on October 6, 2021 at 9:00 am

    You missed OXO

  27. Tiger Boom on October 6, 2021 at 9:03 am

    The first true gamers… they should be known as the gods of gaming.

  28. freddy fazbear destroyer on October 6, 2021 at 9:04 am


  29. gacha click on October 6, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Bruh i just searched 1947 games and little did i know that’s when they were first made

  30. super harambe logan on October 6, 2021 at 9:06 am

    I bet 2% kids played it too much that they were stuck inside

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