Magnavox Odyssey The Magnavox Odyssey is the world's first video game console. It was first demonstrated in May 1972 and released that fall, predating the Atari Pong home consoles by several years. The Odyssey was designed by Ralph Baer, who had a working prototype finished by 1968. This prototype known as the "Brown Box is now at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. There were 340,000 units sold.
Pong Pong was released as a coin-op arcade game by Atari Inc. on November 29, 1972. Pong was based on table tennis, and named after the sound generated by the circuitry when the ball is hit. Although Pong is often regarded as the world's first video arcade game, Computer Space by Nutting Associates was launched a year earlier in 1971. Pong was the first video game to achieve widespread popularity in both arcade and home console versions, and launched the initial boom in the video game industry. Pong's popularity led to a successful patent infringement lawsuit from the makers of an earlier video game, the Magnavox Odyssey.
Coleco Telstar The Telstar is a video game console produced by Coleco which first went on sale in 1976. Originally a Pong clone based on General Instrument's AY-3-8500 chip. The AY-3-8500 chip played several Pong variants on a domestic television receiver, and became available to any manufacturer. The circuit was intended to be battery powered and a minimum number of external components were required to complete the system.
APF TV Fun The APF TV Fun was an early Pong clone manufactured by APF Electronics Inc. in the United Kingdom in 1976. It featured four built in games, a built in speaker, and two controller knobs. It could be powered by either the included AC adapter or by using 6 C size batteries. The TV Fun package was the first entry of APF into the video game market, APF was formerly a calculator and other small electronics developer. While the TV Fun had only limited success, it was later followed up by the much more successful APF Imagination Machine a few years later. The TV Fun included just four titles, and had no way of adding more through a cartridge system. Those four titles were Tennis, Hockey, Single Handball, and Squash - all of which were variations on the typical pong formula.
Second Generation Early 8-bit home consoles (1976-1983)
The earliest console, the Magnavox Odyssey, had used removable cartridges that were glorified jumpers to activate the games already wired in to the console. The earliest console, the Magnavox Odyssey, had used removable cartridges that were glorified jumpers to activate the games already wired in to the console. By the mid-1970's cartridges moved to CPU based consoles. By the mid-1970's cartridges moved to CPU based consoles. Games now consisting of microprocessor based code, had games burned onto ROM chips that were mounted inside plastic cartridge casings that could be plugged into slots on the console. Games now consisting of microprocessor based code, had games burned onto ROM chips that were mounted inside plastic cartridge casings that could be plugged into slots on the console. Rather than being confined to a small selection of games included in the box, consumers could now a mass libraries of game cartridges. Rather than being confined to a small selection of games included in the box, consumers could now a mass libraries of game cartridges.
Fairchild Channel F The Fairchild Channel F is the world's second cartridge-based video game console, after the Magnavox Odyssey (although it was the first programmable cartridge system as the Odyssey cartridges only contained jumpers and not ROM information). It was released by Fairchild Semiconductor in August 1976 at the retail price of $169.95. At this point it was known as the Video Entertainment System, or VES, but when Atari released their VCS the next year, Fairchild quickly renamed it.
Atari 2600 The Atari 2600, released in October 1977, is the video game console credited with popularizing the use of a microprocessor and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non- microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in. The first game console to use this format was the Fairchild Channel F. However, it was the Atari 2600 that made the plug-in concept popular among the game- playing public. Originally known as the Atari VCSfor Video Computer Systemthe machine's name was changed to "Atari 2600" in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200. It was wildly successful, and during the 1980s. The 2600 was typically bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a cartridge game - initially Combat and subsequently Pac-Man.
Magnavox Odyssey² The Odyssey² followed in the steps of the Fairchild Channel F and Atari 2600 by being designed to play programmable ROM cartridges. With this improvement, each game could be a completely unique experience, with its own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring, and music. Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey² included a full alphanumeric membrane keyboard, which was to be used for educational games, selecting options, or programming. One of the strongest points of the system was its excellent speech synthesis unit. The Odyssey² may be best remembered for its fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was the instant classic Quest for the Rings!, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons.
Intellivision The Intellivision was developed by Mattel Electronics. The console was test marketed in Fresno, California, in 1979 with a total of four games available, and went nationwide in 1980 with a price tag of $299 and a pack- in game: Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack. Though not the first system to challenge Atari, it was the first to pose a serious threat to Atari's dominance. A series of ads were produced attacking the Atari 2600's lesser capabilities with side-by-side game comparisons. By 1982 over two million Intellivision consoles had been sold, earning Mattel a $100,000,000 profit.
Video Game Crash of 1984 The delay of Atari's 7800 consoles left them with little to captivate consumers hungry for the next big thing. The delay of Atari's 7800 consoles left them with little to captivate consumers hungry for the next big thing. A flood of consoles on the US market gave consumers too many choices. A flood of consoles on the US market gave consumers too many choices. Many poor game titles and too many games based on the movie ET The Extraterrestrial. Many poor game titles and too many games based on the movie ET The Extraterrestrial. Introduction of personal computers like the Commodore 64, whose theme Why buy your child a video game and distract them from school when you can buy them a home computer that will prepare them for college? Introduction of personal computers like the Commodore 64, whose theme Why buy your child a video game and distract them from school when you can buy them a home computer that will prepare them for college? Millions of consumers shifted their intention to buy choices from game consoles to low-end computers that retailed for similar prices. Millions of consumers shifted their intention to buy choices from game consoles to low-end computers that retailed for similar prices. The crash lasted 2 years. The market was revitalized due to the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) with its landmark title Super Mario Bros. The crash lasted 2 years. The market was revitalized due to the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) with its landmark title Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo Entertainment System The Nintendo Entertainment System was an 8-bit video game console released by Nintendo in North America, Brazil, Europe, and Australia in 1985. In most of Asia, it was released as the Family Computer. The most successful gaming console of its time in Asia and North America, Nintendo claims to have sold over 60 million NES units worldwide. Nintendo helped revitalize the US video game industry following the video game crash of 1984, and set the standard for consoles and controller layout. The NES was the first console for which the manufacturer openly courted third-party game developers. The slogan for the NES in North America is "Now You're Playing With Power!"
Sega Master System The Sega Master System or SMS for short (1986 - 2000), was an 8-bit cartridge-based video game console that was manufactured by Sega. In the European market, this console launched Sega onto a competitive level comparable to Nintendo, due to its wider availability, but failed to put a dent in the North American and Japanese markets. The Master System was released as a direct competitor to the NES/Famicom. The system ultimately failed to topple its Nintendo competitor, but enjoyed over a decade of life in secondary markets.
Atari 7800 The Atari 7800 is a video game console released by Atari in June 1986. The 7800 was designed to replace the unsuccessful Atari 5200, and re-establish Atari's market supremacy against Nintendo and Sega. With this system, Atari addressed all the shortcomings of the Atari 5200: it had simple digital joysticks; it was almost fully backward-compatible with the Atari 2600; and it was affordable (it was originally priced at $140. The system was designed to be upgraded to a full- fledged home computer
Nintendos Game Boy The Game Boy was a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo, released in 1989 at $89.95. The Game Boy was the first successful handheld console, and was the predecessor of all other iterations of the Game Boy line. The Game Boy was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris, since Nintendo thought that an addictive puzzle game would get consumers' attention.
Atari Lynx The Lynx was a handheld game console released by Atari in 1989. The Lynx holds the distinction of being the world's first handheld electronic game with a color LCD display. The system is also notable for its forward- looking features, advanced graphics, and ambidextrous layout. The Lynx was released in 1989, the same year as Nintendo's (monochromatic) Game Boy. However, the Lynx failed to achieve the critical mass required to attract quality third party developers, and was eventually abandoned.
TurboExpress The TurboExpress was a portable version of the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, released in 1990 for $249.99. It was the most advanced handheld of its time and could play all the TurboGrafx-16's games which were on a small, credit-card sized media called HuCards. It had a 66 2.6 in. screen, the same as the original Game Boy, and could display 64 sprites at once, 16 per scanline, in 482 colors from a palette of 512. It had 8 kilobytes of RAM. The optional TurboVision TV tuner included RCA audio/video input, allowing you to use TurboExpress as a video monitor. The TurboLink allowed two-player play. Falcon, a flight simulator, included a "head-to-head" dogfight mode that could only be accessed via TurboLink. However, very few TG-16 games offered co-op play.
Sega Game Gear The Sega Game Gear is a handheld game console which was Sega's response to Nintendo's Game Boy. It was the third commercially available color handheld console, after the Atari Lynx and the Turbo Express. Work began on the console in 1989 under the codename "Project Mercury", as per Sega's policy at the time of codenaming their systems after planets. The system was released in Japan on October 6, 1990, in North America and Europe in 1991, and in Australia in 1992. The launch price was $149.99. Sega dropped support for the Game Gear in early 1997.
The 16-bit era was the fourth generation of video game consoles. Starting in 1987 with the Japanese launch of the PC Engine, this era was dominated by commercial rivalry between Nintendo and Sega with their machines, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Mega Drive (named the Sega Genesis in North America due to trademark issues). The machines introduced in this generation retained the majority market share until 1996.
NEC TurboGrafx 16 The TurboGrafx was a collaborative effort between Japanese software maker Hudson Soft and NEC. Hudson was looking for financial backing for a game console they had designed, and NEC was looking to get into the lucrative game market. The TurboGrafx was a small video game console, due to an efficient three-chip architecture and its use of HuCards. Unlike the Sega Master System (which also supported cartridges), however, the TurboGrafx-16 used HuCards exclusively. It was the first console to have an optional CD module, allowing the standard benefits of the CD medium: more storage, cheaper media costs, and redbook audio. The efficient design, backing of many of Japan's major software producers, and the additional CD ROM capabilities gave the TurboGrafx a very wide variety of software.
Super Nintendo The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities that compensated for its relatively slow CPU, compared with other consoles at the time. Additionally, the system's support for numerous enhancement chips (which shipped as part of certain game cartridges) helped to keep it competitive in the marketplace. The SNES was a global success, becoming the best-selling console of the 16-bit era despite its relatively late start and the fierce competition it faced in North America from Sega's Genesis console. The SNES remained popular well into the 32-bit era, and although Nintendo has dropped all support for the console, it continues to be popular among fans, collectors, and emulation enthusiasts.
Sega Genesis The Sega Mega Drive was a video game console released by Sega in Japan in 1988, North America in 1989, and the PAL region (Europe) in 1990. It was sold under the name Sega Genesis in North America, as Sega was unable to secure legal rights to the Mega Drive name in that region. The Sega Genesis was the first 16-bit console to achieve notable market share in Europe and North America. It was the direct competitor of the Super Famicom (SNES), although the Sega Mega Drive was released two years earlier.
The fifth generation of video game consoles featured both 32-bit and 64-bit consoles. The market was dominated by three consoles, the Sega Saturn (1994), the Sony PlayStation (1994) and the Nintendo 64 (1996). These consoles defined the system wars of this era. The 3DO and Atari Jaguar were also part of this era, but their sales were poor and they failed to make a significant impact on the market. This era also introduced Nintendo's Game Boy Color. Bit ratings for consoles largely fell by the wayside during this era, with the notable exception of the Nintendo 64. Performance depended on more varied factors than bits, such as processor clock speed, bandwidth, and memory size. The 32-bit / 64-bit era also saw the rise of emulation. It was during this time that not only were commonly available PCs powerful enough to emulate the 8 and 16bit systems of the previous 5 or more years, but the internet made it possible to store and download tape and ROM images of older games, eventually leading 7th generation consoles (such as Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable.
Sega Saturn The Saturn was a powerful machine for the time, but its design, with two CPUs and 6 other processors, made harnessing its power extremely difficult. Many of the ancillary chips in the system were "off of the shelf" components. This increased the complexity of the design since less custom hardware was used. Rumors suggest that the original design called for a single central processor, but a second processor was added late in development to increase potential performance. The use of dual CPUs within Saturn was not ideal. The biggest disadvantage was that both processors shared the same bus and had problems accessing the main system RAM at the same time. From 1995–1997 the Saturn became the "other" system, running a distant third behind the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation.
Sony PlayStation The Sony PlayStation was a 32-bit video game console. It was first produced by Sony Computer Entertainment in December 1994. The original PlayStation was the first of thePlayStation series of consoles and hand- held game devices, which included successor consoles and upgrades including the Net Yaroze, PSOne (a smaller version of the original), PocketStation (a handheld which enhances PS games and acts as a memory card), PlayStation 2, a revised, slimline PS2, PlayStation Portable (a handheld gaming console), DVR and DVD recorder based on the PS2, and PlayStation 3. By March 2005, the PlayStation/PS one had shipped a total of 102.49 million units, becoming the first home console to ever reach the 100 million mark.
Nintendo 64 The Nintendo 64 often abbreviated as N64, was Nintendo's third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit processor, it was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, September 29, 1996 in North America, March 1, 1997 in Europe and Australia, and September 1, 1997 in France. It was released with two launch games (Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64). The N64's suggested retail price was $199 at its launch and it was marketed with the slogan: "Get N, or get Out!"
Sega Dreamcast The Dreamcast is Sega's final video game console and the successor to the Sega Saturn. It was designed to supersede the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Released sixteen months before the PlayStation 2 (PS2), and three years before the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox. Dreamcast was hailed as ahead of its time, and is still held in high regard for pioneering online console gaming. It failed to gather enough momentum before the release of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000, and Sega decided to discontinue Dreamcast in March 2001, withdrawing entirely from the console hardware business. Even though Sega has discontinued the repairing of Dreamcast and Saturn consoles, and stopped production of GD-Rom discs, the company will continue to sell Dreamcast to gamers and collectors. Also Sega and third party companies plan to make and sell commercial games into 2008.
Sony PlayStation 2 The PlayStation 2 PS2 is Sony's second video game console, the successor to the successful PlayStation and the predecessor to the PlayStation 3. Its development was announced in March 1999, and it was released after a year in Japan. Released more than a year after the Sega Dreamcast and a year before its main competitors Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. As of September 19, 2007, 120 million PS2 units have been sold worldwide.
Nintendo GameCube The Nintendo GameCube is Nintendo's fourth home video game console. The system itself is the most compact and least expensive, next to the Dreamcast, of the sixth generation era consoles. It is the successor to the Nintendo 64 and the predecessor of the Wii. The home console was released on September 14, 2001 in Japan; November 18, 2001 in North America; May 3, 2002 in Europe; and May 17, 2002 in Australia. The Nintendo GameCube, named Dolphin, is shaped roughly like a cube. The GameCube uses a proprietary storage medium, the Nintendo GameCube Game Disc, and have a capacity of approximately 1.5 gigabytes. GameCube discs are not physically read any differently from a standard DVD disc, but are encrypted with a 'bar code ' unreadable by most DVD drives.
Microsoft Xbox The Xbox is Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market, and competed directly with Sony's PlayStation 2, and the Nintendo GameCube. It was first released on November 15, 2001 in North America; February 22, 2002 in Japan; and on March 14, 2002 in Europe and Australia. It is the predecessor to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. The Xbox was Microsoft's first product that ventured into the console arena, after having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Seg Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console included Halo: Combat Evolved, Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, Dead or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing, and Oddworl: Munch' Oddysee.
The seventh generation began on November 21, 2004 with the United States release of the Nintendo DS. The beginning of the seventh generation for home consoles came on November 22, 2005 with the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and continued a year later with the release of Sony's PlayStation 3 on November 17, 2006 and Nintendo's Wii on November 19, 2006. As all three major home consoles only started to compete at the end of 2006, it is not yet possible to determine which, if any of them, will take a dominating position in the seventh generation. However, on September 13, 2007, the NPD and Enterbrain reported that the Wii is currently leading in sales, with more than 9 million units sold across the globe.
Xbox 360 The Xbox 360 is produced by Microsoft, developed in cooperation with IBM, ATI, and SiS. Its Xbox Live service allows players to compete online and download arcade games and content such as game demos, trailers, TV shows, music videos, or rented movies. The Xbox 360 is the successor to the Xbox, and competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii. The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005. It is the first console to provide near-simultaneous launch across the three major regions, and to provide wireless controller support at launch. The console sold out completely at release and, as of August 27, 2009, 31 million units have been sold worldwide.
PlayStation 3 The PlayStation 3 PS3 is the third home video game console produced by Sony and is the successor to the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii. In sales and market share, it is currently in third place. The system was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan and on November 17, 2006 in the United States. Its primary storage media is the Blu- ray Disc, though it also supports DVDs, CDs, and SACDs. It can output high-definition video for both video games and movies in up to 1080p resolution. It was initially available in two configurations, the 20 GB Basic model and the 60 GB Premium model. However, the 20 GB model was discontinued in North America due to a lack of consumer demand or lower profit margins on the 20GB unit. Currently the unit offers 80 GB and 120 GB options. As of August 05, 2009, 24.6 million units have been sold worldwide.
Nintendo's Wii The Wii is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect acceleration in three dimensions. Another is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode. Nintendo unveiled the system in 2005. As of December 31, 2008 the Wii leads the generation over the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in worldwide sales.