When John Conway first developed Life, he did it all by hand; only using a computer later in the process when it became clear that the elaborate patterns that unfolding during subsequent generations proved too much for pen and paper. After trying several patterns he found that every pattern he started out with eventually stabilized into a few recognizable patterns that fall into two categories, Conway named these still-lifes and oscillators. Immediately Conway found himself wondering if every possible pattern ended in these types of objects. He could not find a starting pattern that resulted in infinite movement or growth in the Game of Life universe. From this the first Game of Life contest was born, and Life entered the realm of the hobbyist.

This section provides details of the common patterns, some especially interesting ones, and information about what has yet to be solved about the mechanics of the Game of Life.


Berlekamp,E.R.; Conway,J.H.; Guy, R.K. Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays, Academic
      Press: New York, 1982.

Martin Gardner, "Mathematical Games: The fantastic combinations of John Conway's new
      solitaire game `life',",
Scientific American, October, 1970, pp. 120-123.