Software that eats its own tail

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of the old video game 1943 on my computer. (I nearly ruined my university education skipping class to play this game back in the late 80s, actually.)

It suddenly occurred to me that this game is, of course, about the Second World War. And WWII is, of course, when the modern digital computer was invented, to help crack German codes. And video games were, of course, the first commercially successful uses of digital computers in entertainment.

I used to think that WWII was a long time ago — but for some reason it suddenly seemed like very recent history. There were probably some 22-year-olds who were working on those first computers back then. And in 1987 some of them probably walked into an arcade — only 44 years later — at the age of 66, only to find that teenagers like me were using those computers they’d invented to kick Axis butt in simulated WWII games.

You know, that must have been extremely weird for them. I have no deeper thoughts on this subject, other than that: There must have been some just totally and completely weirded out 66-year-olds when this Capcom game came out.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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