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OXO

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Published on May 1, 2008

Gameplay of what is considered to be one of the first digital computer games: OXO, a version of Noughts and Crosses for the early EDSAC computer built at the University of Cambridge.

Video is taken from the EdsacPC emulator running the original game code by Alexander S. Douglas, written in 1952. The text output in the top right would have been printed on paper by a teleprinter. User input was handled with a rotary dial like the one displayed to the bottom right. The emulation is faster than the program would have run on the original EDSAC, the clock above the dial shows how long the calculations (and the loading time in particular) would have taken on an original system.

The display to the top left is a CRT with 35x16 pixels, directly displaying the state of one of the mercury delay line memories. The memory is manipulated so that the CRT displays the playing field and the player moves. The second player is controlled by the EDSAC itself, and is programmed to win whenever possible.

Search the web:
"EdsacPC" to download the emulator with a lot of example programs, including OXO.
"EDSAC99" for a page by the University of Cambridge with lots of historical information and photographs on the EDSAC computer.

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