by EDWARD K. YASAKI, Assistant Editor


[Datamation, November, 1963, pp. 43-45]

Dedication ceremonies were recently held for the new quarters of the Stanford Computation Center, 10 years old this year. Set in a landscape conducive to meditation, quiet research, and just plain loafing, the center nevertheless has attained a high level of work throughput. As its director George E. Forsythe expresses it, "Stanford's most significant operation in the past has been the well-run job shop."


The most popular program, however, is the PDP's "space war," written by the programmer Steve Russell, who worked under McCarthy at MIT and was brought to Stanford from Harvard. Aptly described as the ideal gift for "the man who has everything," space war is a two-dimensional, dynamic portrayal of armed craft displayed on the console scope. Each player utilizes four Test Word switches on the console to control the speed and direction of his craft, the firing of "bullets" and, with the fourth, the erasure of his craft from the CRT (to avoid being hit -- a dastardly way out). With each generation of images on the scope, each player's limited supply of "fuel" and "bullets" is pre-set, and a new image is automatically generated after a player scores a hit. Much to the consternation of the CSD staff, the game is a hit with everyone; by executive fiat, its use has been restricted to non-business hours.

The young and jovial Russell, whose character and demeanor fit the nature of space war, is presently working on LISP-2.


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