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Steve Russell (computer scientist)

Stephen "Steve" Russell (born 1937)[1] is an American computer scientist most famous for creating Spacewar!, one of the earliest video games.

Steve Russell
Steve Russell.jpg
Stephen Russell

1937 (age 81–82)[1]
Other namesSlug
Alma materDartmouth College
Known forSpacewar!, Lisp
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science


Russell attended Dartmouth College from 1954 to 1958.

Russell wrote the first two implementations of Lisp for the IBM 704. It was Russell who realized that the concept of universal functions could be applied to the language. By implementing the Lisp universal evaluator in a lower-level language, it became possible to create the Lisp interpreter (previous development work on the language had focused on compiling the language).[2] He invented the continuation to solve a double recursion problem for one of the users of his Lisp implementation.[3]

In 1962, Russell created and designed Spacewar!, with the fellow members of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, working on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1 minicomputer.[4][5] Spacewar! is widely considered to be the first digital video game[6][7] and served as a foundation for the entire video game industry.[8]

He later served as an executive of Computer Center Corporation (nicknamed C-Cubed), a small time-sharing company in Washington state. In the fall of 1968, he mentored Bill Gates and Paul Allen on the use of the DEC PDP-10 mainframe, whilst they were part of the programming group of Lakeside School (Seattle) .[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Steve "Slug" Russell". PDP-1 Restoration Project. Computer History Museum. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  2. ^ McCarthy, John (August 12, 1979). "The implementation of LISP". History of Lisp. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  3. ^ "Steve "Slug" Russell". Computer History.
  4. ^ Markoff, John (February 28, 2002). "A Long Time Ago, in a Lab Far Away…". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
  5. ^ "Spacewar!". PDP-1 Restoration Project. Computer History Museum. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  6. ^ "Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off". Museum of the Moving Image. December 15, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Great Videogame Swindle?". Next Generation. No. 23. Imagine Media. November 1996. pp. 64–66.
  8. ^ "Spacewar! — It Came from MIT". The Dot Eaters. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Isaacson, Walter (2014). The Innovators. Simon & Schuster UK Ltd. pp. Chapter 9. ISBN 978-1-47113-879-9.