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Here's Doom running on a pregnancy test

Doom 1996
(Image credit: id Software)

The one thing that truly unites us as a species is our collective desire to see Doom played on everything. The universe exists solely to create more and more platforms for Doom to be played on now. And thanks to Foone Turing, who tinkers with obscure software and hardware, we now know that pregnancy tests can play Doom. With a bit of fiddling. 

Over the weekend, Turing showed off a gif of Doom rendered on a pregnancy test's display. Turing wasn't actually playing anything, it was just a video, but only a day later Doom finally made the leap to a new platform, undoubtedly changing the world forever. 

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The tiny, monochrome display means that what you actually see is more like the suggestion of Doom. There are walls, floors, doors—wee pixelated corridors that could, I guess, be Doom. When an Imp gets real close, however, it's unmistakable. It's impressive. 

Pregnancy tests are complex. Earlier, Turing dissected one and broke down what they found inside, including an 8-bit microcontroller comparable to what you would have found inside early PCs. 

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"This thing is probably faster at number crunching and basic I/O than the CPU used in the original IBM PC," said Turing, "and this one is in something you pee on and throw away."

The actual bit that tests if you're pregnant or not is just a paper strip that looks like a plain old pregnancy test, so the sole purpose of all this tech seems to be to read the strip and tell you the result. And then you toss it out. It's a tiny disposable computer.

"It's a scam, basically," Turing said, echoing the sentiments of the tweet that inspired them to take a pregnancy test apart. As someone who will never have to pee on a stick to see if I'm pregnant, I'm hesitant to write off every digital kit as nonsense. For the visually impaired, for instance, an LED display is going to be an improvement over a tiny line. An audio component, which neither of these tests had, would perhaps be even better. 

Peeing on a wee computer and then tossing it out does seem pretty wasteful, and it doesn't look like there's a good reason, other than profit, for why the strips can't be just replaced so the device can be used again. 

The microcontroller can't be reprogrammed and so can't be used to actually run Doom on its own, so don't go down to the shops and pick yourself up a box of tests in the hopes of starting a gaming session. Turing's going to be detailing how they got it to work soon. In an earlier thread, after they'd managed to get the video working, they said they expected it to be tricky

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.