The evolution of video game graphics from the 1950s to today (video)

30 Jan 2016

Our spirit of playfulness will always be there, the only thing that will change is the graphics

It may seem like video games have always been with us, and for most of us they have.

Observe the evolution of video games graphics from 1950s Berlin to the big screen TV of the 2016 home.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing,” wrote George Bernard Shaw and, if you were a child of the 20th century or early 21st century, thanks to video games you may never grow old.

We stand on the precipice of an exciting time in entertainment history, the dawn of a new era. We’ve evolved from 2D to recently 3D and now we are entering the fourth dimension as virtual reality is about to transform experiences forever.

If you study human history closely, you’ll see we’ve always played games, from the senet board games of the ancient Egyptians, chess in medieval times, Go in Imperial China, cards in the elegant court of Versailles, Blackjack in saloons of the Wild West, marbles on the streets of Dublin tenements in the 20th century and Pac-Man in arcades worldwide during the 1980s.

Games have been a constant in my life – from arcade Pac-Man to Panama Joe on the ZX Spectrum, Space Invaders on the Atari, Harrier Jump Jet on the Amstrad CPC 464, Streetfighter II on the SNES, Halo on the PC, Call of Duty on the Xbox 360, Assassin’s Creed on the PlayStation 4, Just Dance on the Xbox 360 Kinect to Angry Birds on my smartphone.

I’ve just started dabbling with virtual reality using Google Cardboard and can’t wait to see what comes next.

The earliest evidence of a video game in the 20th century dates back to a patent filed in 1947 by Thomas T Goldsmith for a “Cathode ray tube amusement device” using vector-drawn dots inspired by radar display technology.

This exciting YouTube video charts the evolution of video game graphics from the Nimrod computer unveiled in Berlin in the early 1950s to the latest Tom Clancy’s The Division.


Gamer image via Shutterstock

Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note – because sometimes the lighter side of STEM should be taken seriously, too.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years