What was the first video game?

What was the first video game?
01 Feb 2021

What was the first video game? This is a question my young son asked yesterday, and to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure of the answer. I was initially tempted to answer with something like “Pac Man” or “Frogger.” However, I knew better. Although those are definitely vintage games, neither is even close to being the first video game. So what was the first video game?

In the beginning . . .

In the beginning, video games weren’t called video games. They were called electronic games. It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that the moniker, video game, became mainstream. This was due to the prevalence of arcades and gaming consoles. home PC games soon followed.

Some researchers point way back to the 1950s as the era of the first electronic game, but if we’re going to be completely honest with history, those were more for experimental purposes than entertainment purposes. And they were limited in access only to a very elite group of scientists.

If we’re talking about the first main-stream video game available to the masses, then the overwhelming consensus is that the first video game was Pong.


Pong was the first video game to be a part of the pop culture phenomenon. Indeed, the success of Pong helped create a foundation for the entire gaming industry to build upon. Because of Pong’s important role in establishing the gaming industry, the Smithsonian features Pong as part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Initially built as a training exercise by Atari engineer Allan Alcorn in the 1960s, Pong was quickly adopted as a marketable game!

Today, the gaming industry looks much different than it did in the 1960s when Allan Alcorn introduced the world the 2-dimensional world of Pong. However, because of pioneers like Allan, we the world of video games was not only able to develop, but it was able to thrive!

Thank you, Mr. Alcorn.