The First Commercial Coin-Operated Video Game Was?
Answer: Computer Space
In 1971, Nutting Associates, an arcade game company located in Mountain View, California, decided to branch out from electro-mechanical arcade games and into video games. They hired Nolan Bushnell to create a clone of Spacewar! (an early and popular computer video game) in a stand-alone cabinet.
By the end of the year production started on a 1,500 unit run of Computer Space and the first commercial coin-operated video game was put into arcades across the country. We specify commercial because at roughly the same time students at Stanford had built a single coin-operated video game unit (Galaxy Game) as a project, but never commercialized it beyond setting it up for students to play.
Despite the first-in-history award we can bestow on Computer Space, it wasn’t much of a commercial success. Of the 1,500 units, less than 1,000 sold and both company founder Bill Nutting and Bushnell considered it a failure. Undiscouraged, Bushnell proposed joint ownership in the company in exchange for creating a remake or sequel of the game. Nutting turned him down and Bushnell went on to found Atari, Inc.
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