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Spacewar creator dies

Old school gamers mourn.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Alan Kotok, the man who helped create what was arguably the world's first videogame, has died of a heart attack aged 64.

Kotok was born in Philadelphia and took up a place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he was just 16. He designed Spacewar in 1962 together with a group of fellow MIT students. It ran on a Digital Equipment PDP-1 computer, and saw players using either a keyboard or joystick to fly a small spaceship around as it shot missiles across the screen.

Kotok went on to spend 34 years working for Digital Equipment, and recently held the title of associate chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Many argue that it was not in fact Pong which heralded the birth of games, as popularly believed, but Spacewar. However, Kotok did not see much reward for his efforts; according to the New York Times, in a 1990 interview he stated: "The only money I made from Spacewar was as a consultant for lawsuits in the video game industry in the 1970s. I have all this fame, but it's in a very narrow circle."

Kotok passed away on May 26th at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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