The video game was born in 1958 when William Higinbotham, a US nuclear research laboratory engineer, used an analogue computer and an oscilloscope to develop a type of electronic tennis game. In order to assuage nearby residents' distrust of the research establishment, the game was made available to visitors to enjoy on guided tours of the institute. It never occurred to Higinbotham to develop his game further.
The foundations for the video game era were only laid with the development of the "Odyssey" home games console by engineer Ralph Baer in 1968. "Odyssey", a game similar to ping-pong, was distributed by Magnavox from 1972 onwards. A respectable number of 350,000 "Odyssey" consoles were sold worldwide.
Nolan Bushnell also took up the idea of the ping-pong game. He founded the company Atari on 27th June 1972, and released the automated video games machine "Pong" for amusement arcades just five months later. It proved such a resounding success that Atari brought out "Pong" as a home console from 1975, leading to further commercial success.
The video games market boomed until the start of the 1980s, with Atari, Mattel and Magnavox as the dominant forces. In 1983/84, however, the industry suffered a massive setback as powerful home computers such as the VC-20 and C64 squeezed the games consoles out of the market.
It was Nintendo's Entertainment System (NES) which was responsible for the successful comeback of video games consoles to the Western markets in 1985. Companies such as Sega and Sony jumped on the bandwagon with their Mega Drive and Playstation respectively, and these became the new must-have items of the young people of the day.
Today a video games industry worth billions of dollars has successfully established itself in the global leisure market, with no end in sight to its popularity.
Our new-look exhibition area has undergone a thorough makeover: from July 2016 the focus is firmly on playing games. Pong, Tetris, Pac-Man, Super Mario, Tomb Raider ... visitors are welcome to try them all. In particular, an original arcade Space Invaders game is likely to trigger a whole host of sentimental memories. A large number of historic consoles and accessories are also on show, including the Brown Box, which in 1968 paved the way for the video games of today. These can be compared with contemporary gaming computers featuring current games and incredibly clear graphics.
The PainStation is a computer game that has the ability to hit back where it hurts most. Mistakes by the players aren’t just shown on the screen, but cause pain to be inflicted to boot!