Retro Battlestations: PC Gaming Rigs of Yesteryear
Ever since a playful physicist by the name of Willy Higinbotham invented the video game way back in 1958, humans have been captivated by PC gaming. When personal home computers achieved widespread popularity in the early 1980s, the computer began its swift evolution from a caluclating workhorse to a commodity valued as much for fun as functionality. And in 1981, the gaming world was changed forever when IBM decided to add a game port to their PCs, paving the way for generations of joystick warriors.
While arcade games had already entered the home market via dedicated consoles from Atari, Magnavox, and other companies, the addition of gaming capabilities to home computers allowed for one machine to combine work and play in an unprecedented way. And even though the first PCs were packing processors and graphics that seem downright prehistoric when they’re compared to modern standards, they were more than up to the task of helping gamers destroy asteroids, rescue damsels in distress, or even battle space invaders from the comfort of their couches. And with products like the Colecovision and Intellevision boasting add-ons designed to turn consoles into computers (with varying degrees of success), the line between “home PC” and “video game system” continued to blur.
The storied collapse of the home video game console market in 1983 paved the way for PCs like the Commodore 64 and Apple II to fill the gap in the brief lull between the fall of the Atari and the rise of the Nintendo Entertainment System (and its successors). These gaming rigs of yesteryear were the electronic proving grounds for developers like Alex Seropian, founder of Bungie and co-creator of Halo.
Consoles like the Xbox® and Playstation® have come to dominate public perception with regard to “serious” gaming news and reviews, and casual mobile gaming has grown into a very real industry in the years since the rise of the smartphone and tablet. Nevertheless, the PC remains a popular choice for millions. In fact, 63% of all gamers do at least part of their gaming on a PC.
Will modern power-packed gaming PCs be remembered with as much fondness as their pixelated predecessors are today? Only time will tell. But even in a world full of consoles, smartphones, and tablets, it seems likely that, for millions of people around the world, the PC will continue to be an essential part of the gaming experience.
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