Steve Russell

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For other people named Steve Russell, see Steve Russell (disambiguation).
Steve Russell
Steve Russell.jpg
Born Stephen Russell
1937 (age 77–78)
Other names Slug
Residence Flag of the United States.svg U.S.
Fields Computer science
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Known for Spacewar!, Lisp

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


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).[1] He invented the continuation to solve a double recursion problem for one of the users of his Lisp implementation.[2]

In 1961, Russell created and designed Spacewar!, with the fellow members of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, working on a DEC Digital PDP-1.[3]

The precise origin of the "concept" of computer-based games in general has been debated.[clarification needed][citation needed] Spacewar!, however, was unquestionably the first to gain widespread recognition, and it is generally recognized as the first of the "shoot-'em' up" genre.[citation needed]

Russell also provided technical support for Bill Gates and Paul Allen as they learned how to program computers.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John McCarthy. "History of Lisp". 
  2. ^ "Steve "Slug" Russell". Computer History. 
  3. ^ Markoff, John (2002-02-28). "A Long Time Ago, in a Lab Far Away . . .". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 

External links[edit]