Galaxy-Game [First Version]

Arcade Video game published 50 years ago by Computer Recreations, Inc.

Galaxy-Game [First Version] screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Galaxy-Game [First Version] © 1971 Computer Recreations, Incorporated.

Galaxy Game is one of the earliest known coin-operated computer/video games. It was installed at the Tresidder Union at Stanford University in September, 1971, two months before the official release of Computer Space, the first mass-produced video game. Only one unit was built initially; beginning in 1972 there was "Galaxy-Game [Second Version]" that could include up to 4 displays.

The original version used 4 keyboard keys to control each of the two spaceships: spin one way, spin the other, thrust and fire. Solar gravity will cause the ships to destruct if no action is taken. The Stanford University version added three types of space: no gravity, anti-gravity, and uncharted space.



The game was programmed by Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck. A single PDP-11 minicomputer is used to drive two separate game screens with two players each. Galaxy is a reprogrammed version of SpaceWar!, which was conceived in 1961 by Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Witanen and first realized on the PDP-1 at MIT in 1962 by Stephen Russell, Peter Samson, Dan Edwards, and Martin Graetz, together with Alan Kotok, Steve Piner, and Robert A. Saunders using PDP-1 assembly language. Like Computer Space, it was a version of the existing Spacewar!, which had been created in the early 1960s on the PDP-1 and had since been ported to a variety of platforms. The coin-operated game console incorporated a DEC PDP-11/20 with vector displays. The hardware cost around US$20,000 ($116,466.72 today). In June 1972 the hardware was improved to allow the processor to power four to eight consoles.

A game cost 10 cents or three games for 25 cents. It remained popular on campus, with wait times for players as long as an hour, until it was removed in May 1979 due to the display processor becoming unreliable. Alledgely, the following information was posted on the cabinet or on a sign near it:

"Welcome to Galaxy-Game. If you wish to play, simply rotate the power dial on the power timer behind the couch to the on position. It will turn itself off. Rules for playing are on the games themselves. Enjoy playing the first coin-operated video games created."

The unit was restored in 1997 and is now in the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. In August 2010, the museum loaned the console to Google for display and gameplay at the Googleplex, their headquarters campus.


Re-programmed by : Bill Pitts, Hugh Tuck
Original concept by : Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, Wayne Wiitanen


Machine's picture.