The Tesla and SpaceX founder was once an aspiring video game designer, and now you can play one his earliest creations on the Web.
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In 1984, before he started PayPal, or SpaceX, or Tesla, or posted his Hyperloop design, Elon Musk was a 12-year-old kid with a computer. Like many of the nerdier children of the '80s, myself included, Musk set out to create a video game reminiscent of the blocky Atari and Intellivision titles of the day.
Musk coded a rather simple space shooter he called Blastar and sold the code to a PC magazine for a few hundred bucks. That code was republished in the just-released Musk biography and Google software engineer Tomas Lloret took it upon himself to create an HTML 5 version (warning: autoplays sound) of the game that can be played on the Web.
Most who have played a game in the last 30 years probably won't be impressed by young Musk's efforts, but I can recall being a second grader in 1986 obsessed with Apple Logo, the company's educational programming language that enchanted as many young students as it bewildered their teachers. In Muskian style, I signed up for the InventAmerica competition with plans of building a space-based video game using Logo.
What I ended up creating was more of a short, 8-bit animation of a headless stick figure that blasted off from Earth and then flew past basic representations of the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, passing the occasional alien along the way. So Musk's Blastar, simple as it may be, actually went far beyond what I was able to create around the same time and presumably using similar equipment. Plus, he was actually paid for his work, whereas I withdrew from the invention competition when I wasn't able to create an actual, playable game.
To be fair, though, Musk was five years older in 1984 than I was in 1986. It would seem that this head start is the primary reason that he's the billionaire and I'm the guy who blogs about the billionaire.
Right? Isn't that right, guys? Guys?
You can play Blastar for yourself here (again, warning: autoplays sound). To see the 8-bit animation I created in 1986, you'll need to borrow Musk's time machine and visit the computer lab at Belmar Elementary. Just look for the kid in there by himself after school and don't make too much fun of my shorts, my mom sewed those jams for me all by herself.