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A space-combat simulation game for the PDP-1 written in 1960-61 by Steve Russell, an employee at MIT. SPACEWAR was inspired by E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “Lensman” books, in which two spaceships duel around a central sun, shooting torpedoes at each other and jumping through hyperspace. MIT were wondering what to do with a new vector video display so Steve wrote the world’s first video game. Steve now lives in California and still writes software for HC12 emulators.
SPACEWAR aficionados formed the core of the early hacker culture at MIT. Nine years later, a descendant of the game motivated Ken Thompson to build, in his spare time on a scavenged PDP-7, the operating system that became Unix. Less than nine years after that, SPACEWAR was commercialised as one of the first video games; descendants are still feeping in video arcades everywhere.
[“SPACEWAR” or “Space Travel”?]
[Jargon File]


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