History of the arcade
J Thoendell stashed this in Video Games
To say that Nolan Bushnell single-handedly created the arcade would probably be overstating it: coin-operated machines had been popular in America for decades by the time he got his start in the early '70s, and the pinball arcade had a storied (and notorious) spot in American history. It is also undeniable, however, that the video game arcade would not have happened without him. The video game arcade had its roots in 1971, when Computer Space, the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game, was designed by Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Though considered a failure at the time, the game was revolutionary, and formed the foundations of a new industry. It also marked the beginning of a long, illustrious, and world-changing career for Nolan Bushnell.
So Computer Space predates Pong? Huh, I never knew...
I do know pinball machines were popular in the 1950s.