January 25 in nerd history: That time video games were invented

January 25 in nerd history: That time video games were invented

Happy Opposite Day! Or should we say Sad Opposite Day? OR would that be an opposite of an opposite, so really we should stick with "happy" because you already know it's opposite day, thus making a double opposite actually into a triple opposite? The answer is no. We mean yes? AAAAAAAGH!

This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.

January 25 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on January 25th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.


Birthdays of honor: Virginia Woolf (1882), Etta James (1938), Annie Lennox (1954), Steve Prefontaine (1951), The Honky Tonk Man (1953).


What are your plans for when you get off of work today? Maybe fire up the ol' Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device and enjoy some game time? That would make sense, because today in 1947 Thomas Goldsmith Jr. filed a patent for that very device, which is widely regarded as the very first electronic game.

Along with partner Estle Ray Mann, the physicists got the idea while working on TV screens and were inspired by radar displays used during World War II. They devised a way to use knobs to control light so that it felt like you were controlling the screen.

The first game? Essentially an early version of a mix between Asteroids and Missile Command, where the player could fire missiles at a target.

The amusement device was never actually released commercially due to cost restraints, but it kicked off what would become the hundreds of billions of dollars video game industry we have today. It's probably a stretch to say video games wouldn't exist without this invention (I mean, surely someone would have figured it out eventually), but in this timeline, today is a glorious day for any gamer.

I say celebrate by playing 5 minutes of the original Super Mario Bros. and then getting frustrated and breaking your controller.


Here's a clear way to tell the audience who the villain is — have them want to skin puppies to make fur coats.

Today in 1961, we were introduced to the seminal Cruella De Vil when Disney's animated One Hundred and One Dalmatians hit theaters.

The story of a couple who are just trying to keep their pups from getting turned into fashion and end up taking on 84 new dogs in the process was an instant hit. It grossed over $14 million in its initial run, the most for any animated movie at the time, and when you throw in all the rereleases it comes to a staggering $303 million at the global box office.

I will say, in fairness Cruella should probably get some royalties for that song Roger wrote about her, but I'm no legal expert.


In 1990, the final episode of Miami Vice aired — about eight months after the series finale.

Running for five seasons to great fanfare on NBC, the quintessential '80s cop show then moved to the USA Network to run in syndication. But apparently, there was one last episode that had never aired before, so fans got to see Crockett and Tubbs back in action one last time.

"Too Much, Too Late" has the pair helping an old love interest of Tubbs' (played by Pam Grier, no less) to get a friend out of a drug/trafficking type situation.

USA had also aired three other "lost" episodes: "World of Trouble", "Miracle Man", and "Leap of Faith". But this was the last time we got to see new content from those days that can never be replicated.


Today in 1985 Phil Collins released his third solo studio album upon the Earth, No Jacket Required. It was hugely successful, topping the album charts in the US and UK and ultimately going Diamond. It featured the singles "One More Night", "Sussudio", "Don't Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home", all of which were top 10 hits.