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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

May 30, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Computer Games

When you bought a PC back in the 80s, it came with BASICA (an early BASIC interpreter) and many programs, one of them being the very game: Donkey.bas. It was the very first PC game and was a demonstration of interactive graphics and sound capabilities of BASICA.

The simple driving game was written by Gates and a friend on a prototype PC in 1981, and revolves around dodging donkeys in a supercar. The game seems to be endless.

This game was developed in 1981 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He created this game for demonstrations the IBM PC and the BASIC programming language's capability to produce interactive programs with color graphics and sound. It's argubably the predecessor of all IBM PC games.

Early IBM PC: The game was included free on early versions of Microsoft's DOS operating system - the precursor to Windows - and used to demonstrate the Basic programming language included with the system

The game Donkey is less well-known than some of Bill Gates's other creations but it was in fact the first-ever PC game.  It was given away free with early versions of the DOS operating system for IBM PCs.

Bill Gates described the game himself in a 2001 speech, 'It was myself and Neil Thompson at four in the morning with this prototype IBM PC sitting in this small room.'

'IBM insisted that we had to have a lock on the door and we only had this closet that had a lock on it, so we had to do all our development in there and it was always over 100 degrees, but we wrote late at night a little application to show what the Basic built into the IBM PC could do.'

'That was Donkey. At the time it was very thrilling.'

Bill Gates said:  'You're cruising in your new supercar on a little-used, dead-straight rural road when suddenly a zombified donkey attacks you. It charges at you, dead-set on destroying you. Can you escape the donkey?'

Even at the time, the game was very basic indeed.

The premise of Donkey is simple. You drive a super car along a road and try to avoid a donkey. Obviously, it doesn’t stack up with high-end games like NOVA and Modern Combat, but it is certainly an interesting trip into history. Who knows; if it wasn’t for this game, video games as we know them may not exist, and we would not want to live in a world with no video games.

 World's first PC game written by Bill Gates has been turned into an iPad app.

It's very simple compared to huge 3D worlds created by today's PC titles.  The game is extremely low-resolution and offers a straight 2D.

The DOS-based games I first played with was "My First Apple Computer"  here and my early computer game experience which I shared at "Computer for the Family" , my personal nostalgic memories contributed to the Singapore Memory portal.

As with other ideas of  knowledge-based economy and business concepts, new inventions are derived and based on old ones.

 In computing, a graphical user interface (GUI, commonly pronounced gooey) is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices using images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and office equipment. A GUI represents the information and actions available to a user through graphical icons and visual indicators such as secondary notation, as opposed to text-based interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation.

Computer Games "Then and Now"

 A demonstration of  DOS-based computer games in 1981 attracted everyone at a class in the community centre. (Photo above).

Two youngsters playing a Microsoft Windows-based interactive computer games available in the community centre in 1991. (Photo below).

Gaming today is a widely recognized part of our cultural landscape. But those of us over thirty are just old enough to remember a time before gaming, before digital entertainment invaded the arcades, our computers and our homes.

Gaming itself is as old as history. Artifacts from ancient Sumeria and Egypt have shown that our ancestors enjoyed playing board games thousands of years ago. But electronic games required the invention of electronic computers.

The earliest computers were slow, failure-prone monsters that took over entire rooms and had less power than a modern pocket calculator. Still, early programmers on these machines felt compelled to waste time by making these computers do things like playing tic-tac-toe.

After World War II, electronic computers moved out of the realm of cutting-edge laboratories and into universities and large corporations. Many university students became the first game programmers, transforming their fantasy and sci-fi imaginations into digital adventures.
The concept of hooking up an electronic game system to a television set was invented by Ralph Bauer in the early 1950s.

Later he took his ideas to the TV company Magnavox, which released a refined version of his "Brown Box" prototype as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. The Odyssey was primitive, displaying only spots of light on the TV screen, and it required translucent plastic overlays to simulate the appearance of a game. Still, the revolution was underway, and there was to be no stopping it.

The first wildly popular home console system was the Atari 2600, released in 1977. It used plug-in cartridges to play many different types of games, and thanks to the popularity of Space Invaders, it became a best seller. Computer games, written largely for the Apple ][ and TRS-80 computers, were also taking off at this time. While the console industry experienced a crash in 1983, it soon recovered and both computer and console games never looked back.

Note:  Archived photos with "For online reference viewing only" watermark are credit of National Archives of Singapore with acknowledgement and thanks for sharing on this blog.



Blogger lim said...

My most nostalgic game was a Wordtris game designed by a Russian programmer. When I managed a score, a Russian folk tune would be played as a bonus. Now, I don't play computer games anymore. Totally lost interest.

May 31, 2012 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

Your article is very informative and inspiring. We have gone far in terms of computer gaming. From a simple basic game to an advance 3D game like Need for Speed; it's a great advancement indeed. I used to play Contra before. A simple 2d shooting game. But now, I am able to play 3D games like Call of Duty. Thanks!

January 3, 2019 at 11:01 AM  

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