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12-10-2019 at 09:02 PM
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What was your first video game experience?

Think back....way back....

What is your earliest video game memory? Was it an arcade game? A console? A movie or TV show about a video game?

When I was 5 my father took me to a science fair. I didn't realize it at the time, but I lived near one of the most advanced research facilities in the world: Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories.

Chalk river is home to the world's first nuclear reactor outside of the United States. As such, scientists from all round the world lived in the nearby town Deep River. Reading about this years later, I now understand why there were so many british accents around that area (teeny town in the middle of the wilderness 10 miles away from the largest military base in Canada.

Why do I mention all that? Because the science fair was BAD ASS!

I remember seeing huge laser systems, robot arms that you could use to manipulate items in a radiation chamber, music synthesizers, etc.

This was not some high school fair, this was the research facility putting on a show for the scientists in the town.

The two things that stood out in my mind are the synthesizer, and the giant computer that played Tic Tac Toe.

I have done some research tonight trying to find out what computer system they would have used in 1975 to display X and O, but I could not. I keep finding small little green screens, but that is not what I remember. Then I found Bertie the Brain.

Bertie the Brian is claimed to be the first working video game. Bertie was created for the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition by Josef Kates. The game ran on a single purpose computer that stood 4 metres tall.

Because the display was backed with light bulbs not cathode ray tubes, I would not classify it as a "video" game. Definitely a computer game.

While I can't believe this machine was dragged 5 hours north to Chalk River for a science fair 25 years after it was built, the photos sure look like what I remember. False memories perhaps.

Who knows? Maybe the scientists in 1975 had their own retro scene!

This might explain why I enjoy programming computers far more than playing video games. And I love video games.

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  1. francoisadt's Avatar

    I did encounter first pacman arcade in 1980, 1981, then atari 2600 pacman, then 1982 mspacman arcade

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  2. Pat Larocque's Avatar

    Around 4-5 years old when we got our first console, it was a Coleco Gemini system (cheap Atari 2600 knock-off) that came with Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap!

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  3. Fly's Avatar

    Mine was on this thing that I still have.

  4. Barthax's Avatar

    It was definitely in the 1970s - a typical TV plug & play Pong-clone of the era but I've no idea which one and very little memory of the games (only played a few times).

    My first solid "woah, what's that" memory of video games was on a trip to visit my Grandma. Went out for the day onto the promenade in Rhyl (didn't live here back then) and I remember turning the corner from the high street onto the promenade and came face to steering wheel with a Sprint version (I always walked with head down back then, uninterested in most of what was around me). Sprint 2 seems most likely as there were two steering wheels but the pictures I can find of Sprint machines don't match my memory (this isn't a particularly vivid memory) - I remember the monitor being much lower than the pic on Wikipedia: . The steering wheel I messed around with was already loose and wobbling (have no point of reference to know if this was the norm or via wear & tear) - loved spinning it & pretending to be one of the cars. Alas, I soon got dragged off by family, back to head-down ignoring the world. :P

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    Updated 12-11-2019 at 07:53 AM by Barthax
  5. Rogerpoco's Avatar

    Family had a commercial cabinet shop, late 70's, pretty close-knit crew of workers, not all Family.

    They had a couple of the Pong units, and would pass them around, meet up at each other's houses to play, I remember it being a big deal for them.

    My Father and I have conflicting memories of this one, but here's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

    They would take 15 minute breaks, and a half hour for lunch, at the convenience store across the street.

    My Dad was a 100k Donkey Kong player, when the game was "new", was the only one who could beat the third elevator, and people would crowd around to watch him-

    He was "only" a 100k player, because he had to walk away from the game when the break was over, and it was just "something he did", I don't think it ever occurred to him to go somewhere, sometime, where he could just keep going.

    He remembers playing, but doesn't remember being "the one", and I can't really come up with the right person to confirm my beliefs.

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  6. speedy47591's Avatar

    uncle jake had an Atari when I was little. old man killed me at frogger. there was also some racing game on there that made me nauseous. wish I knew what it was called so I could find a copy and burn it.

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  7. Pearl2hu's Avatar

    tony hawks pro skater 2 on ps1

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  8. Snowflake's Avatar

    my familes first was atari, but first one i personally owned was a nes. my mother for baby shower, took the money and gave each of her kids a bank account. so the baby shower money truly went to the babies. as i got older, if she was convinced it was a purchase i'd really appreciate she'd let me take money out. i still remember it was about $400 in the account. most of my childhood i knew i had $400 in the banks, i just couldnt touch it. i was able to convince her to let me take out the $100 needed for the nes. it was no longer the early rob days, it was the days of super mario bros/duck hunt, pretty much the days i think that most people bought the nes, so i no on release it was more expensive, but at htat period it was $100

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  9. RTM's Avatar

    My first video game experience (arcade) was on an old novelty title the name of which I cannot even remember as it has been so long.

    From what I can recall, the game was fairly large-size and intended to have one player on opposite sides of the cabinet facing each other. There was a "viewer" not unlike what the view-part of "Sea Wolf" was like, and when you looked inside it was a black-lit environment of a moon-surface with various rocks and craters.

    On your end you controlled either a flourescent red or green spaceship...a real one resembling a toy. Your joystick" moved it left/right and a fire button fired your laser shot. Your opponent controlled the other ship (red/green whichever colour you did not control).

    The goal was how many times you could shoot your opponent before the timer expired.

    My first home console gaming experience was the original Magnavox Odyssey and with all due respect to the brilliant Ralph Baer it was a terrible gaming experience for someone who was quick to "master" it. There were celluloid screens to put onto your TV set and you used knobs to control a video cursor/square and make it walk up a staircase and past windows in the "haunted house" challenge...but once done the replay value was maybe do it once and then you were already bored. There were other celluloid screens and "challenges" all of which you could quickly finish and after about an hour you did it all....not the best $100 spent back then. My parents ended up returning it (in those days you could still get your money back depending on the store).

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  10. datagod's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by RTM

    My first video game experience (arcade) was on an old novelty title the name of which I cannot even remember as it has been so long.

    From what I can recall, the game was fairly large-size and intended to have one player on opposite sides of the cabinet facing each other. There was a "viewer" not unlike what the view-part of "Sea Wolf" was like, and when you looked inside it was a black-lit environment of a moon-surface with various rocks and craters.

    The Half Moon Arcade (Weirs Beach, a few miles from funspot) has many electro-mechanical games. I love playing them.

    The Museum of Pinball in Banning California has an impressive collection as well. Althought neither of those two places have a game that you describe, it definitely sounds familiar to me. I travelled up and down the west coast (Vancouver to Mexico) multiple times in the early 80's and we hit every arcade we could find. I am sure I played that game.

  11. RTM's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by datagod that you describe, it definitely sounds familiar to me

    RTM REPLY - it's too bad there is no online data repository including pics of all the old novelty titles much like KLOV has...I'd really like to know it is that I had been playing decades ago.

    My memory alone allowed me to track down that "Monte Carlo" donation to ACAM from 1975, the one that came unopened in the original crate.

  12. Snowflake's Avatar

    this reminds me, i still gotta find copies of the old winkie dink show and make tracks for it. pass/fail or speed run doesnt matter, more so about bringing attention to it and marking down who has played.
    for you millenials

  13. Ragequit's Avatar

    I remember going to a mall when i was very little about 4 or 5 and seeing a captain america & the avengers cabinet in one of the hallways, right in front of a food court. My older brother read alot of comics so i recognized the characters immediately. I was tiptoeing cuz i was so short so i could fiddle with the joystick and buttons but apparently at that age i had no idea that you needed to insert a coin to play the game lol. Then my mom scooped me up and we went to whatever shopping store. Was the first time i ever saw a video game or an arcade game in person.

  14. spectre's Avatar

    The year was 1985 and I was 6 years old. My dad and me was waiting for our order of burgers and the burger joint had arcade machines in the back. I had never seen something like that before and asked if I could try one.

    He credited up Commando by Capcom and got me a chair to stand on.

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  15. Pixe Sukola's Avatar

    I must have been about 5 years old. My dad had emigrated from Mexico to the USA to work one year before and when he came back, he brought me an Atari 2600, I was very young to understand the games and my dad and my older cousin were the ones playing most of the time. I remember 2 games Yar's Revenge and Word Zapper. That was my very first encounter with videogames.

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    Updated 12-13-2019 at 12:44 AM by Pixe Sukola
  16. datagod's Avatar

    Commando and Yars Revenge are both great games!

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