What is the Oldest Video Game Ever Made?

Video games are big business within the entertainment industry and have a wide-spanning impact on society and culture. After Sony’s recent demonstration of their 9th generation PlayStation 5, we thought we’d take a look back at where it all began.

Video games reached mainstream culture throughout the 70s and 80s, but they actually go back even further than that. So, what is the oldest video game ever made?

Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device

Cathode-ray tube amusement device
Cathode-ray tube amusement device

The oldest video game ever made is the cathode-ray tube amusement device. This device was invented by Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Este Ray Mann in 1947. The cathode-ray tube is the earliest known interactive electronic game, it simulates an artillery shell arcing towards a cathode ray tube (CRT). The trajectory of the CRT beam can be altered by adjusting dials on the device.

Despite the cathode-ray tube device being the first interactive electronic device, many don’t consider it to be a video game as it didn’t run on a computing device.

Bertie the Brain

Bertie the Brain
Bertie the Brain

The first ever video game to be publicly demonstrated was Bertie the Brain. It was first shown at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1950 and was built by Josef Kates in Toronto.

Josef Kates had previously helped build one of the world’s first computers, the University of Toronto Electric Computer, and the device was built as a way to showcase Kates’ electron tube, the Additron.

Bertie the Brain was an electronic version of tic-tac-toe, or noughts and crosses for the Brits. Players selected their next move using a grid of nine lit buttons on a raised panel, with the scores for the “Human Brain” and “Electronic Brain” shown on an adjacent display screen. Bertie could be set to different difficulty levels, with the hardest one being virtually unbeatable.



Another early contender for the oldest video game ever is the Nimrod. Built in the United Kingdom by electrical engineering company Ferranti, the Nimrod was a 12 x 9 x 5-foot computer that was first unveiled at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

The Nimrod allowed people to play a game of the mathematical strategy game, Nim, against artificial intelligence. Players had to sit at the stand and press buttons to make their moves. Panels of lights would show both the state of the game and the computer’s calculations of its next move. The lights displaying the computer’s calculations could be slowed down to demonstrate its movement.

First Ever Video Game Console

Magnavox Odyssey - Gameplay
Magnavox Odyssey – Gameplay

The video games mentioned above were all played on massive computers and were unable to be played at home. The first ever home video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey, which was released in 1972, and featured games such as Table Tennis, Simon Says, and Hockey.

Since then, the gaming industry has grown rapidly, and video games are one of the dominant forces in the entertainment world. New video game consoles give rise to even greater games and it is quite incredible to see how far the industry has come since the days of Nimrod and Bertie the Brain.

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If you like this article you might also like this list of the best-selling consoles of all time, which counts down 10 gaming consoles that have sold over 80 million units worldwide.

Which of these games would you most like to play? And what’s the oldest video game and/or console that you’ve ever played? Let us know in the comments section below and join our Blog of Games video game blog community. If you have any questions, please get in touch below or contact me at richard@blogofgames.com

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