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One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, commonly known as One on One, is a 1983 computer basketball game written by Eric Hammond for the Apple II and published by Electronic Arts. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, IBM PC (as a booter), TRS-80 Color Computer, and later to Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari 7800. In Europe, the publisher was Ariolasoft.

One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird
One on One - Dr. J vs. Larry Bird Coverart.png
Cover art
Developer(s)Electronic Arts
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Atari Corporation (7800)[1]
Designer(s)Eric Hammond
Platform(s)Apple II (original)
Amiga, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, IBM PC, Macintosh, TRS-80 CoCo
1987: Atari 7800[1]
Genre(s)Sports (Basketball)



The player controls basketball star Julius Erving or Larry Bird in a game of one-on-one against another player or the computer. The game has excellent animation,[2] personal fouls, a 24-second shot clock, jumpers, fall-aways, putbacks, and what is likely the first instant replay in video games.[3] It allows for play to a certain score or timed games. On offense, a player can spin or shoot; on defense, attempt to block or steal the ball, with over aggressiveness penalized by fouls. A hard dunk can shatter the backboard, prompting a janitor to come out and sweep up the shards, directing censored complaints at the player in the process.


The game was developed while Trip Hawkins was unsuccessfully attempting to develop a computer game based on American football (an effort which eventually led to the creation of the Madden NFL series). Influenced by a televised one-on-one basketball tournament he remembered watching when he was younger, Hawkins decided to create a game based on the concept. He signed Julius Erving, his favorite basketball player at the time. Erving went to Electronic Arts headquarters for principal photography and to offer advice to the developers. Erving and Bird were each paid $25,000 to appear in the game, along with a 2.5 percent royalty. In addition, Erving received some stock in Electronic Arts.[3]

The game's simpler half-court set-up allowed the team to focus on adding more realism to the players, including more accurate physics and animations. A planned feature that would have made Bird and Erving play more similarly to their real-life counterparts did not make the final game.[3]

The game's cover photograph, as seen on the game's record-style package, was taken while Erving and Bird were visiting the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The crowd sounds heard in the Amiga version were recorded by Hawkins and producer Joe Ybarra at a Golden State Warriors game.[3]


One on One was very successful, helping EA avoid financial difficulty and increasing retailers' familiarity with the company.[4] In 1984 St.Game's readers named the game the eighth most-popular Apple program of 1983.[5] One on One was Electronic Arts' best-selling game, and second best-selling Commodore 64 game, as of late 1987.[6] It was certified "SPA Platinum" (sales of 250,000 copies) by November 1989,[7] after having sold 400,000 copies by late 1988 and becoming the highest-selling sports game ever for computers.[8]

InfoWorld in 1984 called One on One "perhaps the most talked-about sports game of the new year". The magazine praised its portrayal of the two players' individual styles, backboard shattering, crowd noise, and instant replay, concluded that "One On One delivers the goods: a realistic simulation of a lively sports matchup".[9] Computer Gaming World in 1984 called One on One "incredibly realistic" and predicted that it would be one of the year's best sports games. The magazine cited the "absolutely fantastic" graphics, simple controls, and the instant replay as positives, only criticizing the lack of clarity of ball possession under the basket and lack of overtime.[2] St.Game stated "This is the sports game of 1984", noting the realistic feel of the two players' playing styles. While noting the inability to stop dribbling to fake out the other player, the magazine concluded that "Highly addictive, thrilling, sometimes frustrating, and always involving are ways to describe One-on-One. It's a winner".[10] Ahoy! in 1986 called the Commodore 64 version "a must-have", praising its graphics and gameplay.[11] Compute! in 1986 approved of the Amiga version's improved graphics and sound but noted that the gameplay was the same as on 8-bit computers, stating that this was "a testament to careful research and clever programming" of the original version.[12]


In 1988, the sequel Jordan vs Bird was created for the IBM PC, Sega Genesis, Commodore 64, and the Nintendo Entertainment System, featuring more detailed and realistic graphics, and chance of playing slam dunk contest (with Michael Jordan) or 3-point shootout (with Bird). Jordan later received his own dedicated game from EA, the 1993 release Michael Jordan in Flight for MS-DOS, which featured a new 3-on-3 team formula, a 3D basketball court environment and players (including Jordan himself) presented as digitized sprites.

The original One on One has been credited as a game that helped establish Electronic Arts as a successful game company and would also foreshadow how important sports titles would be to the company's future.[3]


  1. ^ a b Scott, Jason (May 20, 2013). "Atari 7800 Manual: One-on-One Basketball (1987)(Atari)". Console Manuals: Atari 7800. Internet Archive. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Long, Dave (April 1984). "One On One". Computer Gaming World (review). pp. 42–43.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sauer, Patrick (May 25, 2017). "How Dr. J and Larry Bird Helped Build a Video Game Empire". Vice Sports. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  4. ^ Campbell, Colin (14 July 2015). "How EA lost its soul, chapter 8". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  5. ^ "The Best and the Rest". St.Game. March–April 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  6. ^ Ferrell, Keith (December 1987). "The Commodore Games That Live On And On". Compute's Gazette. pp. 18–22. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  7. ^ Staff (November 1989). "Chart-Busters; SPA Platinum". Game Players (5): 112.
  8. ^ Staff (October 1988). "Michael Jordan and CGW Go One on One". Computer Gaming World (52): 32, 33.
  9. ^ Mace, Scott (27 February 1984). "Olympic games on the way". InfoWorld. p. 66. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  10. ^ Yuen, Mike (March–April 1984). "Call Him Dr. Joystick". St.Game. pp. 37–38. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  11. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1986). "Calling Computer Coaches / Team Sports Simulations for the Commodore 64". Ahoy!. pp. 47–50. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  12. ^ Brannan, Charles (May 1986). "One-On-One For Amiga". Compute!. p. 53. Retrieved 29 July 2014.

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