The first unit of Galaxy Game took three and a half months to create, and its total hardware costs were around $20,000 USD. A second version of the game was built with better hardware that could power multiple cabinets, and its costs went up to $60,000 USD.
The game ran on a PDP-11/20
computer with 8 Kbytes of memory and an optional hardware multiply/divide unit. The cabinet also included a point plotting display interface, and a Hewlett-Packard 1300A Electrostatic Display. One single computer could power two machines and, with the later upgrade of the display interface in the second version, up to 8 machines could be controlled by a single PDP-11.
As the game was a re-implementation of Spacewar
, it was originally intended to retain the same name. However, being 1971, the designers were concerned with the reaction to the term "war" at the Stanford University campus. They decided to name it Galaxy Game instead.
The game was very well received by the community, with 10 to 20 players around the machines on the busiest nights, sometimes waiting for their turn for over an hour. Each game cost 10 cents, but three games could be played for 25 cents. Although successful, both versions of the game barely recouped their hardware investment.
Galaxy Game remained in operation at the Coffee House at Tresidder Union until May of 1979. The display processor had become very unreliable and the machine was removed and disassembled. The main hardware was stored for 18 years and, in April 1997, the opportunity arose for the machine to be featured, in working condition, at the Computer History Exhibit of the Stanford University
. With the work of some generous volunteers, Galaxy Game was brought back to life and made available for visitors in December 1997. In the Summer of 2000 it was transferred to the Computer History Museum
in Mountain View, CA. A decade later, in August 2010, the museum loaned the game to Google
, for display (and use!) at their headquarters.