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As with many inventions, the history of video games is somewhat disputed. Video games as we know them today can be traced back to the early 1950s. Ralph Baer, who some credit as the father of video games, was a television engineer who developed a concept for interactive television games in 1951. It would be a few years, however, before his visions were realized. In 1958 William Higginbotham developed the first interactive computer game called Tennis for Two.
Video games began to evolve into arcade style games and eventually home consoles. The earliest video games included Computer Space; which was the first coin-operated arcade game; Pong, which was the first mass produced video game; Gunfight; and Space Invaders, which was the first video game to display animated characters and high scores.
The earliest video games played at home were on the Atari Video Computer System (VCS 2600), which was released in 1977 and sold through Sears. In addition to Pong and Space Invaders, Atari's earliest video games were Breakout and Combat. Coin-operated arcade games were also quickly growing. The earliest video games found in arcades include Asteroids and Pac Man, which remains the most popular arcade game of all time.
One of the earliest video games to display a long-lasting video game character came in 1981 when Nintendo released Donkey Kong featuring Mario. Mario, the beloved plumber who was first intended to be a carpenter, has been featured at the center of dozens of video games through out time and still more are on tap. Other video games with long running popularity include the Final Fantasy series, Zelda, and Pokemon.
After nearly three decades, the advancement from the earliest video games to today's modern versions is phenomenal. Technological advancements that allow software developers to push the envelope have resulted in three major worldwide players: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Each company touts their own individual achievements in the gaming industry, but Nintendo holds the record for the best-selling video games of all time; for over 20 years, Super Mario Bros. held that honor, before being overtaken by Wii Sports in 2009.