The history of video games goes as far back as the 1940s, when in 1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann filed a United States patent request for an invention they described as a “cathode ray tube amusement device.” Video gaming would not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when arcade video games, gaming consoles and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since then, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern culture in most parts of the world. As of 2013, there are eight generations of video game consoles.
On January 25, 1947, Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann filed a United States patent request for an invention they described as a “cathode ray tube amusement device“. This patent, which the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued on December 14, 1948, details a machine in which a person uses knobs and buttons to manipulate a cathode ray tube beam to simulate firing at “air-borne” targets. A printed overlay on the CRT screen helps to define the playing field.
In February 1951, Christopher Strachey tried to run a draughts (checkers) program he had written for the Pilot ACE. The program exceeded the memory capacity of the machine and Strachey recoded his program for a machine at Manchester with a larger memory capacity by October.
Also in 1951, while developing television technologies for New York based electronics company Loral, inventor Ralph Baer came up with the idea of using the lights and patterns he used in his work as more than just calibration equipment. He realized that by giving an audience the ability to manipulate what was projected on their television sets, their role changed from passive observing to interactive manipulation. When he took this idea to his supervisor, it was quickly squashed because the company was already behind schedule.
OXO, a graphical version of tic-tac-toe, was created by A.S. Douglas in 1952 at the University of Cambridge, in order to demonstrate his thesis on human-computer interaction. It was developed on the EDSAC computer, which uses a cathode ray tube as a visual display to display memory contents. The player competes against the computer.
In 1958 William Higinbotham created a game using an oscilloscope and analog computer. Titled Tennis for Two, it was used to entertain visitors of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Tennis for Two showed a simplified tennis court from the side, featuring a gravity-controlled ball that needed to be played over the “net,” unlike its successor—Pong. The game was played with two box-shaped controllers, both equipped with a knob for trajectory and a button for hitting the ball. Tennis for Two was exhibited for two seasons before it was dismantled in 1959.
All info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_games