Video Game

The title of the world’s first video game is often attributed to “Tennis for Two”. This game was created by physicist William Higinbotham and displayed on an oscilloscope at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York in 1958. It was a simple tennis simulation game where players could control paddles and hit a ball back and forth on the screen.

Rediscovering Gaming History: Exploring the Origins of the “Tennis for Two” Video Game

In the ever-evolving world of video games, it’s essential to acknowledge and appreciate the trailblazers who paved the way for the industry we know today. Among these pioneers is the historic “Tennis for Two”, an early electronic game that holds a special place in gaming history. Join us as we delve into the origins, gameplay, and impact of this groundbreaking creation.

Unveiling “Tennis for Two”

Created by physicist William Higinbotham in 1958, “Tennis for Two” is considered one of the earliest known video games. Developed on a Donner Model 30 analog computer, this simple but innovative game served as a precursor to the digital entertainment we enjoy today.

William Higinbotham - Inventor of First Video Game
William Higinbotham – Inventor of First Video Game. Image Credits – The Verge.


Tennis For Two on a DuMont Lab Oscilloscope Type 304-A
Tennis For Two on a DuMont Lab Oscilloscope Type 304-A. Image Credits – Wikipedia.

Gameplay and Mechanics

“Tennis for Two” was designed as a two-player competitive tennis simulation. The game featured a side view of a tennis court displayed on an oscilloscope, a device used to visualize electrical signals. Players used controllers with buttons and knobs to maneuver a dot representing the tennis ball. By adjusting the angle and speed of the ball’s trajectory, players aimed to hit it over the net and score points against their opponent.

Impact and Legacy

While “Tennis for Two” was initially created as a demonstration for the annual visitors’ day at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the game quickly gained attention and acclaim. It showcased the potential for interactive electronic entertainment and sparked the curiosity of both scientists and the public. Higinbotham’s creation highlighted the exciting possibilities of combining technology, physics, and recreation in a way that captivated the imagination of those who experienced it.

The setup for Tennis for Two as exhibited at Brookhaven National Laboratory 1958
The setup for Tennis for Two as exhibited at Brookhaven National Laboratory 1958. Image Credits –

Setting the Stage for the Future

“Tennis for Two” paved the way for the development of the video game industry. It demonstrated the appeal and potential of interactive digital entertainment, serving as an inspiration for future game developers and designers. While “Tennis for Two” itself did not have a direct commercial impact, its influence on subsequent game creators cannot be understated. It demonstrated that games could transcend the realm of academia and scientific research.

Appreciating Gaming History

As we celebrate the vibrant and ever-growing world of video games, it is crucial to acknowledge the groundbreaking contributions of early pioneers like William Higinbotham and his creation, “Tennis for Two”. This historical gem embodies the spirit of innovation and curiosity that continues to shape the industry today.


“Tennis for Two” stands as a symbolic milestone in the evolution of video games. From its humble beginnings on an oscilloscope screen, this early electronic game sparked the imagination of those who witnessed its creation. It laid the foundation for future advancements while inspiring game developers to push the boundaries of interactive entertainment. Acknowledging the legacy of “Tennis for Two” allows us to appreciate the rich history and innovation that led us to the immersive and diverse gaming experiences we enjoy today.

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