The first two-player coin-operated video game was likely 'Galaxy Game' - a prototype arcade computer game developed at Stanford University in the USA.
Students Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck conceived and built the machine at a cost of US$20,000 in 1971, with the main component being PDP-11 'minicomputer'. Two players seated at the console could play a version of 'Spacewar!' for the cost of 10 cents per game. (Spacewar! being a competitive spaceship computer game that was created in 1962 on a lab computer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Despite being popular with students, Pitts and Tuck never managed to make the project commercially viable due to the expensive computer equipment required and only two prototypes were made.
The dream of bringing Spacewar! to the masses was arguably achieved the same year by engineers Nolan Bushnel and Ted Dabney when they licensed their own 'Computer Space' machine to arcade machine manufacturer Nutting Associates. Computer Space was a simplified version of Spacewar! using custom electronics rather than a computer. The simpler game could be produced at vastly lower cost than the Stanford machine, though wasn't quite the 'hit' its creators were hoping for. (For that, we need to talk about 'PONG'...)
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Image credit: Tom Purves, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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