What Does Spacewar Mean?

Spacewar is a two-player game and is considered one of the first digital computer video games. The game involved each player controlling an armed starship and attempting to destroy the other. In 1961, with the intent of implementing the game on DEC PDP-1, Steve Russell, Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiltanen started working on the game. The team took 200 hours of coding to create the first version. Peter Samson, Dan Edwards and Graetz later developed additional features for the game.


Techopedia Explains Spacewar

Spacewar was developed on the DEC PDP-1. This computer’s operating system was the first to allow multiple players to share the machine simultaneously. The basic idea of the game involves two armed ships, in the shape of needle and a wedge. A star is located in the center of the screen and simulates gravity. Each player needs to maneuver so as to avoid colliding with the star while at the same time firing missiles at the opposing ship. The fuel and missiles are limited. In case of an emergency, a player can enter hyperspace, but the reentry is at a random location on the screen. It is a last-ditch move and comes with a big risk of the ship exploding with each use. Player controls were initially done with the help of front-panel test switches. They controlled thrust, fire, hyperspace, clockwise and counterclockwise rotation. Joysticks and similar inputs were later added to make control easier.

Spacewar has a very important place in the history of computer games, as it was one of the first ever developed.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…