Tennis for Two, created in 1958 by William Higinbotham as a novelty demonstration for the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s annual public exhibition, is widely considered the first true video game as we know them. It displayed a two-dimensional profile view of a tennis ball bouncing back and forth across a court on an oscilloscope, amazing the public. In the 60 years since then, oscilloscopes have come a long way. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be used for gaming, as demonstrated by Jason Gin of Rip It Apart.
Gin owns a Keysight InfiniiVision DSOX1102G digital oscilloscope, which is one of the company’s mid-range models. It’s packed with all of the features one would expect from a modern oscilloscope, and that includes complex software for monitoring and graphing signals. As it turns out, that software runs on Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0, which is commonly used for mobile and embedded systems. It was, for example, what was running on the Microsoft Zune HD. The version running on Keysight oscilloscopes is heavily modified with a custom GUI, but Gin was able to gain access to the desktop.
Gin’s journey started when it came to his attention that some actions would cause the ‘scope to crash, and when it did a taskbar and pointer were visible for a moment. After copying over a few of the utility programs necessary for the desktop to run, Gin was able to gain access the full Windows Embedded CE 6.0 desktop and keep it stable. With the desktop available, Gin did what any sane hacker would do and installed DOOM. It may not be running at a blistering 120FPS, but in a 320×240 windowed mode Gin reports that DOOM is entirely playable on his oscilloscope.