Skip to main content

Popular YouTuber shows how the 1980s' gaming 'light guns' actually worked

How light pens and light guns work NES Zapper
Every nerd of a certain age has a slight weakness for 1980s technology — and thanks to shows like Stranger Things, there has never been a better time to get nostalgic about the decade that gave us big hair, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and peak Steven Spielberg.

One person who is capitalizing on this trend is popular YouTuber David Murray, aka The 8-Bit Guy, whose YouTube channel offers fun science lessons in the inner workings of our favorite retro gadgets. In his latest video, Murray shows us how two “must have” bits of gaming tech — the Light Pen and NES Zapper gun — worked.

Since being posted just a few days ago, the video has already racked up more than 400,000 views and shows no sign of slowing down, either.

“The response to this video has been amazing,” Murray told Digital Trends. “In the last 24 hours, I’ve had more than 1,000 emails. I’m trying my best to answer them all.”

The video is an entertaining deep dive into technology that seemed incredibly futuristic at the time, but which we never thought too much about the science that made it possible. What is impressive is how ahead-of-its-time tools like the Light Pen and NES Zapper gun actually were and how well they worked in some cases, despite the comparatively basic tech involved.

While Murray now has plenty of videos to his name, in this case, he said the video took a while to put together because of the challenge of finding one of the somewhat-rare light pens available for sale.

“In a lot of cases with these technologies, I have to track down and buy the things I want to show,” he noted. “I’ve been searching for a light pen on eBay for some time now, but they don’t show up so often because they’re rare. Eventually, I found one for $40, so when it arrived, I figured it was time to do this video.”

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
The Sims 5: release date speculation, trailers, gameplay, and more
sims 4 for rent expansion pack shared living the 6

It's time to brush up on your Simlish if it's rusty because the long-awaited The Sims 5, aka Project Rene, is officially on the way. This has been the longest gap between main entries since the series began, and while we did get tons of expansions for The Sims 4 to hold us over, plus the change to it becoming free to play, we're more than ready for a new entry. Each time a new game in the franchise comes out, die-hard fans always need to have a bit of skepticism about what features will be there -- both new and returning. Again, the last entry eventually got to a great spot, but it certainly wasn't there at launch. We can't answer all your questions yet, but here's everything we know about The Sims 5.
Release date speculation

Still referred to by the code name Project Rene, The Sims 5 (which we will call it until the official title is revealed) does not have a release window as of now. Developer Maxis did state it was working on it in October 2022 at the Behind the Sims Summit presentation. The only clue we got there was this statement from Lyndsay Pearson, franchise creative vice president: "Over the next couple of years, we'll continue sharing updates with all of you on Project Rene."

Read more
GTA 5 cheats: codes and phone numbers PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC
The main characters of Grand Theft Auto V stand side-by-side.

A slam-dunk of a game for the talented developers at Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto V has been out for several years now, but it’s still an extremely popular title. We’re also guessing there’s some renewed interest in the game because the world knows we’re getting a Grand Theft Auto VI in the somewhat-near future. If you’ve ever played a GTA game, you’ll know the going can get a little tough from time to time. This is why it’s nice to live in a world with cheat codes. 

Whether you just want to have a ton of fun with unlimited health and ammunition, or you’re seriously struggling with a certain section of the game, we’ve rounded up all the cheat codes you’ll need to know for GTA V, for platforms including PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC.
How to use GTA 5 cheats
There are a few ways to enter GTA 5 cheat codes. The first and easiest is to use your cellphone. You can open your cellphone by pressing Up on the D-pad. From there, enter the corresponding number, and the cheat will fire. You can also classically input cheats by following a specific button combination. The combinations are the same across PlayStation and Xbox, but we've split them up to account for their different button-naming conventions, so it should feel more natural reading and entering them.
GTA 5 character cheats
Max Health and Armor

Read more
How to fix ‘servers at capacity’ error in Helldivers 2
A Helldivers 2 player fires a laser canon.

Helldivers 2 is a ton of fun to play, but the game isn’t without its small list of issues. One of these maladies is an error code that reads “servers at capacity.” If you’ve ever seen this pop-up window, you’ll know just how frustrating it can be to get around. But as far as fixes go, there's not much one can do when it comes to getting around this roadblock.
Can you fix the servers at capacity error?

Unfortunately, this is one error in Helldivers 2 that you have no power over. This issue falls on the game being just too popular for the game's servers to keep up with. A statement posted by developer Arrowhead in its official Discord said: "Our team is working around the clock to solve these issues. While we've been able to mitigate some of the causes, we are still struggling to keep up with the scaling that is needed to accommodate all our Helldivers. Therefore, we’ve had to cap our concurrent players to around 450,000 to further improve server stability. We will continue to work with our partners to get the ceiling raised.”

Read more