Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device

The Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device (CRTAD) is often considered the earliest interactive electronic game. It was invented by physicists Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann in 1947. The CRTAD is a very simple game, but it is significant because it was the first game to use an electronic display and to be interactive.

The CRTAD consists of a cathode-ray tube (CRT) connected to basic oscilloscope type circuitry with a set of knobs and switches. The player uses the knobs to control the trajectory of a beam spot on the CRT screen. The beam spot represents the trajectory of an artillery shell, and the player’s goal is to hit targets that are overlaid on the screen.

The CRTAD was never commercially produced, but it is considered to be an important milestone in the history of video games. It was the first game to demonstrate the potential of electronic displays and interactive gameplay, and it paved the way for the development of more complex and sophisticated video games in the years to come.

Here are some additional details about the CRTAD:

  • It was patented in 1948.
  • It was built from analog electronics and did not use any digital computer or memory device.
  • The CRT projected a spot on the display screen, which traced a curved arc across the screen when a switch was activated by the player. This beam spot represented the trajectory of an artillery shell.
  • The targets were painted onto a transparent overlay, since the CRTAD was invented before the era of computer graphics.
  • The CRTAD was intended to demonstrate the commercial possibilities of cathode-ray tube technology beyond television, but it never went into commercial production.

The CRTAD is a fascinating piece of gaming history, and it is a reminder of how far video games have come since their humble beginnings.

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