Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Half-century-old video game restored

    Wired reports that visitors to NYC’s Brookhaven Lab will be able to play one of the first electronic games as it was originally presented, thanks to the work of some talented engineers.
    Brookhaven engineer Willy Higinbotham created Tennis For Two, a rudimentary bouncing-ball demonstration, using an oscilloscope and a Donner Model 30 vacuum tube analog computer in 1958. In 1997, Brookhaven staff restored the game for its 40th anniversary, but had to use a solid-state computer, which was imperfect. Now, having acquired a later-model Donner computer, the staff is about to finish restoring “Tennis For Two” to a more period-accurate state.

    Physicist Peter Takacs writes in a blog post that the restoration will be available soon — pending the OK from Brookhaven’s electrical safety inspector.
    “Tennis For Two,” believe it or not, wasn't even close to being the first electronic game.

    Also from 1958: The Chordettes sing what is easily the filthiest song to become a smash in the 1950s, "Lollipop," which is exactly about what you think a song which says "I call him lollipop" is about. A very young Andy Willams seems to be cheerfully and wickedly in on the joke, but the poor Everly brothers seem to wish they were anywhere else.

    But wait, there's more! 50 years later, Dell used "Lollipop" in an ad, and, in the opening, winked even more explicitly at the song's obscene subtext. This deconstruction might be racist, or homophobic, or just smart-alecky depending on your frame of reference...

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