Video games in the 1970s were mainly a novelty item and Nolan Bushnell worked at Lagoon, an amusement park in Utah, during the summer and he was over the arcade games. He saw Spacewar running on a mainframe (a type of computer in the 1960s) at the University of Utah as a student there.
In 1962, video games were passed around by geeks, as some would call them, they were the programmers and technicians at research institutions or large companies. Spacewar! Was one of these games. To play this two player game which consisted of two space war between two spaceships, aka space war. As time went by and the computers were making progress and becoming better. The computer needed to play Space war, you would need to have programmable CRT. The PDP-1 cost $120,000 and only 55 were sold. The people who created the game wanted to monetize the game but considering the price tag of it, this never came about.
Enter in Computer space, Nolan Bushnell after seeing this at the University of Utah and while working as the person over the arcade games at Lagoon, he thought that Spacewar would have been a good fit and would be very popular but the price tag it wasn’t feasible. Bushnell worked for Ampex, which was an electronics company. He played the game at Stanford. Later on, he found an ad for a Nova Computer which was $4,000 and thought that they could make it work in the real world. He worked with Ted Dabney and they developed hardware for it. They got the cost down to $350. They needed to find someone to manufacture it in California and they found Nutting who allowed Syzygy to build the prototype and get 5% for every cabinet sold.
Computer Space was born and in 1971, it went public. The game uses no microprocessor or memory, and the system was made of 74-series TTL chips. This game has the player control a rocket and it shoots a pair of flying saucers all while avoiding enemy fire. When a player would hit a saucer, it would disappear and then reappear where it was hit. It was a good game.
There were 1,500 units of Computer space sold on the initial run and it reached 10,000. It made over $1,000,000 but Nutting wanted a success like Computer Quiz.