running Spacewar!
Spacewar! running on a PDP-1
Image by Joi

Spacewar! is one of the earliest known digital computer games.

Spacewar! was conceived in 1961 by Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen. It was first realized on the PDP-1 in 1962 by Stephen Russell, Peter Samson, Dan Edwards, and Martin Graetz, together with Alan Kotok, Steve Piner, and Robert A Saunders. Spacewar! is in the public domain.

You can play the original version on this website here! Martin Graetz provided a printed version of the source. After it was typed in in again - it was about 40 pages long - it was re-assembled with a PDP-1 assembler written in PERL. The resulting binary runs on a PDP-1 emulator written as a Java applet. The code is extremely faithful to the original. There are only two changes. 1)The spaceships have been made bigger and 2) The overall timing has been special cased to deal with varying machine speeds.

The "a", "s", "d", "f" keys control one of the spaceships. The "k", "l", ";", "'" keys control the other. The controls are spin one way, spin the other, thrust, and fire.

Read about The Origin Of Spacewar!

Play Spacewar Online


Credits: Barry Silverman, Brian Silverman, Vadim Gerasimov


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