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Scientists still play video games on their expensive laboratory equipment

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

This is the control module for an Agilent High Performance Liquid Chromatography system. They separate, identify and quantify each component in a mixture. These systems have many applications, such as medicine, research, manufacturing and, as you can see, Space Invaders.

Redditor NateNewThread posted this image of his Agilent HPLC handheld monitor yesterday, showing it playing Space Invaders, accessed by an Easter egg menu. These machines cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes six figures, so it's nice that the manufacturer included a free game as a pre-order bonus. Or perhaps it was the other way around?

If you have one in your laboratory (the model isn't specified but appears to be a 1260, going by this picture and this listing from Agilent) access the games menu by typing "hobbit" at the welcome screen. "Then a new screen will appear with the tab 'games,'" writes NateNewThread. "It's in the games screen along with a puzzle game which I have yet to explore."

Games on laboratory research equipment is a tradition perhaps as old as video gaming itself. What some consider to be the first video game, Tennis for Two, was coded by William Higinbotham at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1958 and played on a the Donner Model 30's oscilloscope. Spacewar was coded in 1961 by three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a PDP-1, one of which still exists at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., and is playable by the public.

"Companies have been doing stuff like this with scientific systems for a while now," noted another Redditor in comments on the image. "On the HP Oscilloscopes at my school, a specific button combo will let you play Tetris on it."

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