Game on! First hit computer game Pong turns 40

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Computer gaming really has grown up. Classic arcade title Pong turns 40 this week.

The first commercially successful video game in history, Pong arrived in U.S. arcades on Nov. 29, 1972, and immediately became a huge hit. The tennis simulator saw players using paddles to knock a ball across the screen, with the action speeding up as the game progressed.

Originally created for games company Atari by designer Allan Alcorn as part of a training exercise, it proved so enjoyable that a prototype was installed in a California bar.


And when Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell returned to the bar to find the coin compartment overflowing, he decided to put the game into full production.

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Pong soon enjoyed huge success, with over 19,000 cabinets sold, and a home version released in 1975. The title has gone on to be updated and remade for almost every console, including the PlayStation, Nintendo DS, and PSP.

It paved the way for the Seventies heyday of the gaming arcades, with 1978's Space Invaders and 1979's Asteroids also huge hits.

And to mark its 40th birthday, Atari last week created an enormous version of the game at the Lights Festival in Kansas City, on the side of a 22-story building.

"While Pong technically wasn't the first video game ever made, it is certainly the one that started the games industry as we know it today," said Guy Cocker, editor of GameSpot UK.

"Its importance can't be understated," he added. "It was the game that launched Atari, was the first game to gain mainstream success both in arcades and the home, and was copied all around the world by companies including Nintendo.

"It's gone on to appear on nearly every games console ever since, and is just as addictive today as it was back in 1972."