Video game pioneer John H. Conway dies aged 82

Creator of 1970's Life.

John H. Conway, a pioneer in the early history of video games, has passed away aged 82.

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Conway was a long-time professor and celebrated mathematician, credited with the concept of surreal numbers.

But he is best known to the world of video games for creating Life, a 1970 zero-player game which predates other early landmarks such as The Oregon Trail and Pong.

As a zero-player game, your only interaction with Life is to set its initial state running. The program then begins - setting off a growing set of 2D digital cells which slowly creep across your screen in accordance to a strict set of rules. Certain cells go on to multiply, in a manner meant to simulate a biological organism.

You can see it for yourself by simply Googling "Conway's Game of Life", which will set a session of it going in your browser window.

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Conway had been living in a New Jersey nursing home following retirement from a 60-year-career. He passed away on Saturday due to complications from coronavirus.

Image credits: CNN, Towards Data Science

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Tom Phillips

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