Festival Schedule

Innovative Lives: Pioneers of Spacewar!

Nov 29 | 6:45 - 9:00 PM

National Museum of American History, Wallace H. Counter Plaza

Join the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation for a special evening at the National Museum of American History featuring the inventors of the world’s first distributed videogame:

  • Dan Edwards
  • Martin Graetz
  • Steven Piner
  • Steve Russell
  • Peter Samson
  • Robert Saunders
  • Wayne Wiitanen
  • Moderator: Christopher Weaver

Interact with the creators of Spacewar, learn about the Smithsonian’s Videogame Pioneers Initiative, and play retro games against old and new friends. Spacewar was created on a DEC PDP-1 at MIT in late 1961 and early 1962, quickly spread across the early “hacker” community, and then was distributed as pre-loaded in PDP core memory. The world has not been the same since.

Spacewar proved wildly popular among the small programming community of the 1960s and inspired arcade and home video games in the 1970s and 1980s. Its attention to detail, challenge of gameplay, and inspired use of limited memory and computing power continues to impress.

The Smithsonian is bringing the original group of contributors together for the first time since the 1960s to explore inspirations for the game, discuss challenges encountered while bringing it to fruition, and reflect upon the growth of computer games and the transformation of interactive technology over the past 60 years.

We invite you to join us for this unique and historic event.