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 worked with Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney 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 Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck had built a single coin-operated video game unit (Galaxy Game) as a project, but never commercialized it beyond setting it up for Stanford 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, more than 1,000 sold, but it was not the runaway success that everyone hoped for. Undiscouraged, Bushnell and Dabney left Nutting Associates in 1972 and went on to found Atari, Inc.
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