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Timeline of Video Games

Chronology of the History of Video Games

Editor: Ted Stahl


Though the history of video games is a subsection of the history of computing, it is important to recognize how integrated this entertainment medium is to the evolution of computing hardware and software. Furthermore, video games are not just software, but are shaped and defined by their hardware.

Whereas a word-processor's function is an abstract concept that can remain essentially intact from platform to platform, a video game is defined within the hardware technology of the platform for which it is designed. The choice to utilize hardware elements like vector vs. rastor monitors, audio synthesizers vs. digitally samplers, and whether or not to incorporate video playback devices (i.e., laserdisc, CD-ROM, and DVD) defines a video game as much as the software itself does. Since a video game is a sensory experience, the sound, the visual elements, and the interface that the player uses to interact witht the game cannot be divorced from the programmed logic and instruction set that provides the experience.

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The Early Years

The Early Years begin in 1952
Within this period of video game history reside the pioneers and visionaries who attempted to create an interactive experience using electronics and visual displays.

The Golden Age

The Golden Age of video games begins in 1971
This period begins with the mainstream appearance of video games as a consumer market in arcades, on home consoles, and their evolution on personal computer platforms. It covers the rise of the dedicated hardware systems and the origin of multi-game cartridge-based systems.
The Modern age begins in 1984
It includes the continued evolution of video games on computers during the American public's disenchantment with dedicated console systems. It covers the rise of 8-bit and 16-bit architectures. During this era, many computers provide a home to video games, but the PC becomes the eventual standard. Network and Internet multi-player gaming becomes a household possibility.
The "Next" Generation arrived in 1995
This era of video game history bears witness to the rise of the 32-bit, 64-bit, and 128-bit processor architecture in home console machines. The popularity of online gaming, online betting like online poker sites, mobile bingo sites and social networking grows and is reflected in the mobile and console market. This period is full of advances in hardware that enable more realistic and immersive experiences for gamers.


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Many video game historians do not consider computer-based gaming, vector-display gaming, nor LCD-gaming true "video" games. It is not the intent of this site to determine what a video game is or is not. However, in order to document a history pertaining to the evolution of video games, it is important to recognize the myriad influences that have the most significant relevance to the continued growth of this entertainment medium. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to ignore related evolutionary steps whether or not they are included as a part of the medium itself.



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