My name is Alexander Smith, and I am a librarian that has been researching the history of the video game industry for nearly a decade. I began collecting sources for my own edification, but after becoming dissatisfied with the books currently available chronicling the history of the video game industry, I decided to take my own stab at the problem. Therefore, I am currently hip-deep in research for what should ultimately become a three volume history of the video game industry across all formats (coin, console, computer, mobile, etc.) and all major geographic regions (U.S., U.K., Continental Europe, Japan, Mainland East Asia, etc.). Volume I will cover the pre-history of the industry to 1982, when the US console market began to crash, Volume II will cover 1982-1994 as the computer game market takes off in the United States and Europe and Nintendo revives the console market and battles Sega for 16-bit dominance, and Volume III will cover 1994-present as the Sony PlayStation and the Internet bring video gaming into the mainstream and new revenue and distribution models transform the industry in the early 21st Century.
The main reason I decided to begin this massive undertaking is the high level of inaccuracy that has crept into most of the video game history books written so far. Most of these books have been written by journalists who were sometimes more interested in telling a good story than running down every last fact, and while these tomes usually get the big picture right, they tend to be slipshod on chronology and details. More recent works have done a much better job in this regard, but they are still necessarily limited by page count and by the amount of time they have to research the subject. My goal is to create as accurate a retelling of the industry’s history as currently available sources allow in a series of tomes large enough to contain the full story. I hope to have the first volume finished by the end of 2016 for publication sometime the following year.
I started this blog as a companion to my research. The goal is to use this forum to gather my sources and attribute my facts and explain where my information comes from, point out any contradictions among sources, and try to reconstruct events as best I can. This will allow me to more easily organize my research for my manuscript while also providing a forum to debunk a few of the inaccuracies that have cropped up in previous efforts. For more detail on my methodologies and sources, consult the introductory post of the blog.
This blog has no set posting schedule, and I find that some of the longer posts can take as long as a month to put together, so there will definitely be long gaps between posts at times. As stated, this blog is primarily for me to organize my thoughts, but I hope the material may prove interesting to a few other people out there. Questions, comments, and observations are welcome.
Do you have any biographical information on the principals of Sittman and Pitt? Thank you — Donald H. Harrison, San Diego
Hi. Really interested to know if you have any more information about the Nutting Association “Knowledge Computer”. I have read your blog and its been very helpful. We have recently acquired a genuine Knowledge Computer and haven’t been able to find any original photos of it. Also keen to know its value (its in excellent original working order). Any information you have would be really appreciated. – Kelly (Western Australia)
Re. your Coin-Op History – my interest is early (particularly British) coin-operated games, so I very much look forward to reading Vol 1 when it’s published.
One correction to your existing text I would suggest: You cite International Mutoscope’s Drive Mobile of 1941 as the first coin-op driving game. The earliest patent I’ve seen for a game of this sort was filed by Algernon Evans in 1928 (Patent No GB322268). There are several other British games from the 1930s using essentially the same concept as the Mutoscope game (notably by Chas. Ahrens, Mark Myers and John Brenner). There are also German games from the same period.
See my post here: http://pennymachines.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=167&p=496
Thank you for this. I was always a bit suspicious about Drive Mobile seeing how so many other early innovations in the coin-op field came out of Britain and how Rabkin often inflated his position as an innovator during his own lifetime, but I had never researched the question in depth. As I am focused on video, I largely rely on Bueschel and Costa for tales of the early days, and they are both silent on driving game origins. I will get this corrected.
In case you missed it, Paul Braithwaite’s Arcades & Slot Machines provides a good survey of British coin-op machines and manufacturers.
I would like to quote a limited amount of your content regarding the Exhibit Supply Company in an article for sports card collectors. Can you contact me?
Hello – Is it worth to write about sigma serious games during the sixties ?
Hi Alexander. I am a visual researcher working on a doc t.v. series about vintage tech and have some specific questions that I’m wondering I could run by you via email? Can you send me your email address, and I can go into more detail with you?
I’d like to cite your discussion in “The Book of Nolan.” It’s for a book manuscript I’m about to turn in, and unfortunately I don’t know how (or if) the material appears in your book coming out later this year. Can you let me know how you’d like to be cited?
I hope you’re well.
I was wondering if you might be able to help me with some information about a Glerios, Seipel & Co. Fußball-Match (please see a restored version here: https://pennymachines.co.uk/Forum/download/file.php?id=13285&t=1) for a restoration TV show. It is quite a different kind of table football than most people are used to seeing, but I wondered if you might have any information on its history?
“The main reason I decided to begin this massive undertaking is the high level of inaccuracy that has crept into most of the video game history books written so far.”
There’s no better book to start with discrediting than “Atari Inc, Business is Fun”. That book has done more to harm the history of Atari than any other book.