Breakout is closely tied to two members of its video game family tree: Pong and Arkanoid.
- 1966. Ralph Baer begins work on the Brown Box, later to become the Magnavox Odyssey home video game system. One of the games developed is Table Tennis, a simple game of two paddles deflecting a ball horizontally on a screen. It's seen by Nolan Bushnell at a demo, and helps inspire the similar Pong in 1972 and Breakout in 1976.
- 1976. Atari releases Breakout to arcades. It's conceptualized by Bushnell, and ostensibly programmed by Steve Jobs; however, Jobs actually gets his friend Steve Wozniak to do the work.
- 1986. Nothing much happens Breakout-related for a decade, then there are, in this order, three Breakout-style games released in 1986: Gigas (Sega), Arkanoid (Taito), and Gigas Mark II (Sega). Arkanoid is the one to set the stage for brick-breaking games to follow, with its many enhancements in the form of falling "power-ups" that can be caught and influence the player's deflection device.
- 1987 to present. An innumerable slew of Breakout games are created - far too many to list. Wikipedia has a partial list.
The sheer simplicity of the game concept, the fact that one can play solitaire for a short or long time, and the addictive and satisfying gameplay have made Breakout a winner for decades. Here is a listing of Breakout games available today at JUST ONE game publisher:
Bricks of Atlantis
Bricks of Camelot
Bricks of Egypt
Bricks of Egypt 2: Tears of the Pharaohs
Hyperballoid Golden Pack
Magic Ball 3
Nuclear Ball 2
Ricochet Lost Worlds
Ricochet Lost Worlds: Recharged
Temple of Bricks
Treasures of the Deep
It looks like brick breaking is here to stay.
- David Sudnow wrote an interesting autobiography in 1983 detailing his obsession with the home version of Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld. You can get the book in PDF format here.
- Gamasutra has an in-depth article on designing Breakout games, level design and other elements.