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January 1, 2024

The National Space Invaders Championship Held by Atari in 1980

Space Invaders was one of the first true blockbuster video games after Pong. In Japan, where the game was developed by Taito in 1978, it even caused a shortage of 100-yen pieces (the coin used in arcade machines there). The game was no less popular in the U.S. so of course there was a port for the popular Video Computer System (Atari 2600). It became the first killer app for a video game console and was responsible for quadrupling Atari 2600 sales.


In 1980, the year that Space Invaders was released for the Atari 2600, a tournament was held to determine the best Space Invaders player. Four people were picked from four regional competitions to compete in the final in New York. A total of 10,000 people participated from all of the regions combined. It wasn’t the first video game competition but the Space Invaders Championship was the first such event on a large scale and is the predecessor of today's eSports.

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