clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

First game tournament, ‘Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics,’ held 40 years ago

Spacewar! pitted players against each other arena-style

Oct. 19 marked the 40-year anniversary of the first-ever gaming tournament, where players gathered to compete in Spacewar! at Standford University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Spacewar! pitted players against each other arena-style. As one of five different ships, they avoided hazards and gravitational pulls while trying to torpedo enemies. In 1972, about two dozen players gathered in Palo Alto, Calif., around the Stanford lab's only PDP-10 computer to compete in a five-man free-for-all and a team event. First prize, which went to team winners Slim Tovar and Robert E. Maas, and free-for-all winner Bruce Baumgart, was a year's subscription to Rolling Stone.

Spacewar! is still available to play on a PDP-1 at the Computer History Museum in Moutain View, Calif., on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

The tournament was reported on by Stewart Brand and photographed by Annie Liebowitz. You can read the transcribed article here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon