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The History of Console Gaming

By Rivster
  • Atari PONG

    Atari PONG
    Inspired by Baer's original Tennis Game, Atari created the game Pong. It became a huge success. This game truly launched the electronic gaming revolution.
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    1st Generation Consoles

    This Generation includes consoles like the Atari PONG and the Magnavox Odyssey.
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  • Magnavox Odyssey

    Magnavox Odyssey
    The world's first home video game system. The Odyssey utilized simple black-and-white graphics, enhanced by plastic overlays for the television screen.
  • Atari V CS

    Atari V CS
    The "golden age" of home video games was launched in October 1977 when Atari released its own programmable video game system. Atari's Video Computer System (VCS), later known as the Atari 2600. It ran the popular games: Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Pac-Man.
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    2nd Generation Consoles

    This Generation includes consoles like the Atari V CS, and the Magnavox Odyssey2.
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  • Mattel Intellivision

    Mattel Intellivision
    Mattel launched its Intellivision video game system. Intellivision was the first video game system to utilize a 16-bit microprocessor—the General Instruments 1600. Intellivision became known for its proprietary sports titles, such as Major League Baseball, NFL Football, NHL Hockey, and NBA Basketball, even though the lack of third-party games contributed to its second-place showing against the Atari 2600.
  • ColecoVision

    Colecovision featured high-quality graphics and utilized an 8-bit Z-80A microprocessor with 8K RAM. Colecovision's main claim to fame is that it offered high-quality versions of arcade favorites Donkey Kong, Defender, Frogger, Joust, Spy Hunter, and Zaxxon.
  • Atari 5200

    Atari 5200
    The Atari 5200 SuperSystem was based on the graphics and audio chips found in the Atari 400 personal computer. Games for the 5200 were essentially improved releases of older 2600 (VCS) games; this lack of new games failed to excite consumers, and the 5200 was lost amid the overall market crash of 1982.
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    3rd Generation Consoles

    The ''dark ages'' of console gaming, Because of the precipitous drop in sales that started in 1982. The crash was caused by too many derivative or poor-quality game cartridges from too many manufacturers.
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  • Nintendo Entertainment System

    Nintendo Entertainment System
    In 1983, Nintendo released the Famicon ("family computer") video game system to the Japanese market. The console was a hit, selling 2.5 million units in its first year, and Nintendo began negotiations with Atari to distribute the system in the United States. Those talks fell through, however, and Nintendo decided to distribute the system itself in the United States, under the name Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
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    4th Generation Consoles

    The home video game industry experienced a rebirth with the introduction of a new generation of game units driven by two technological innovations: lower-cost memory chips and higher-power 8-bit microprocessors. These developments enabled game designers to produce home video game consoles that could successfully compete at a quality level equal to that of arcade machines.
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  • Atari 7800

    Atari 7800
    Atari attempted to reverse its sliding fortunes by releasing the long-awaited Atari 7800 ProSystem in 1986. Unfortunately, the 7800 featured outdated technology and did not compete effectively against newer fourth-generation game systems.
  • Sega Master System

    Sega Master System
    In 1989, Sega released its first game system in the United States, the Sega Master System (SMS). The SMS had two cartridge ports: one in a standard cartridge configuration, and a second port that accepted small credit card–shape cartridges. The system was capable of utilizing both ports at any given time, and Sega used this feature to produce plug-in 3D glasses for use with certain games.
  • Nintendo GameBoy

    Nintendo GameBoy
    Also released in 1989 was the first programmable handheld game system, Nintendo's GameBoy. It featured a black-and-white LCD screen and came prepackaged with a Tetris cartridge. With more than 100 million units shipped in various configurations, the GameBoy holds the honor of being the world's all-time best-selling video game system.
  • NEC TurboGrafx-16

    NEC TurboGrafx-16
    NEC's TurboGrafx-16. (The system was launched in Japan in 1988 as the PC Engine.) Although the TurboGrafx-16 was advertised as a 16-bit system, it actually used an 8-bit microprocessor, assisted by a 16-bit graphics chip and 64K RAM; it was notable as the first game console to have a CD player attachment.
  • Sega Genesis

    Sega Genesis
    More formidable was the Sega Genesis game system (sold as the Mega Drive in Japan). Released to the U.S. market in 1989, Genesis was the first true 16-bit game system, using a Motorola 68000 microprocessor. Its sales received a significant boost with the 1991 release of the Sonic the Hedgehog game.
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    Handheld Consoles are Introduced

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    5th Generation Consoles

    The fifth generation of home video game systems featured 16-bit processors, more detailed graphics, and more imaginative games. This generation was dominated by Nintendo and Sega.
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  • Nintendo Super NES

    Nintendo Super NES
    To compete with the Sega Genesis, Nintendo launched its own 16-bit system in 1991. The Super NES (known as the Super Famicon in Japan). The initial U.S. production run of 300,000 units sold out overnight; over the course of its product life, more than 46 million Super NES units were sold worldwide.
  • Atari Jaguar

    Atari Jaguar
    In December 1993, a full six years since the release of its last game console, Atari attempted to re-enter the fray by releasing a 64-bit video game system. The CD-ROM-based Atari Jaguar promised to be a revolutionary machine but was hampered by a lack of game cartridges and practically nonexistent marketing. In 1996, Atari officially killed the Jaguar, and dropped out of the video game market altogether
  • 3DO

    3DO was the first 32-bit system released in the United States; it sold for $699. Despite the system's stunning graphics, the high price ensured its status as a niche system. The 3DO system was removed from the market in 1996.
  • Sega Saturn

    Sega Saturn
    The Sega Saturn, released in May 1995, achieved its high graphics quality by using twin 32-bit microprocessors and CD-ROM-based games. Unfortunately, the Saturn's high $399 price and lack of third-party games led to its being overshadowed by Sony's upcoming game console.
  • Sony Playstation

    Sony Playstation
    In September 1995, Sony released its first video game system, the Playstation, to the U.S. market. Backed with a massive advertising campaign, the Playstation unseated both Nintendo and Sega to become the leading home video game system; to date, it has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
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    6th Generation Consoles

    The sixth generation of home video games featured high-powered microprocessors and dedicated graphics processors that enabled extremely realistic graphics and game play. These game consoles outperformed the much higher-priced personal computer systems of the day.
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  • Nintendo 64

    Nintendo 64
    In 1996, five years after the release of the Super NES, Nintendo released its own sixth-generation game system, the Nintendo 64. The Nintendo 64 was the first home system to utilize a 64-bit microprocessor (hence the name); it was priced at just $150, significantly lower than its competition. The launch was hugely successful, with 1.7 million units sold in the first three months of release.
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    7th Generation Consoles

    "The 128-bit Era"
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  • Sega Dreamcast

    Sega Dreamcast
    Sega upped the video game ante in 1999 with the release of its Dreamcast system. Incorporating a 128-bit microprocessor and 26MB memory, the Dreamcast ran on Microsoft's Windows CE platform. Dreamcast had strong sales until Sony's release of its Playstation 2; continuing financial problems led Sega to discontinue production in March 2001.
  • Sony Playstation 2

    Sony Playstation 2
    Sony released the Playstation 2 (PS2), powered by a 128-bit "Emoticon Engine" microprocessor and 32MB memory. In the first two days of its March 2000 Japanese launch, Sony sold more than 1 million units. Released in the United States in October 2000, the $200 console sold out its initial run of 500,000 units within a matter of hours. Three years after the PS2's launch, worldwide console sales had reached 60 million units, making it the dominant video game system in the current market.
  • Microsoft Xbox

    Microsoft Xbox
    Microsoft entered the video game market in November 2001 with its widely anticipated Xbox system. The Xbox incorporated a 733MHz Pentium III microprocessor, 64MB RAM, a 10GB hard drive, and built-in Ethernet support. Microsoft initially shipped 1.1 million units to retailers; in its first two years of release, almost 10 million units were sold worldwide.
  • Nintendo GameCube

    Nintendo GameCube
    Also released in November 2001 was Nintendo's latest game system, the GameCube. It was Nintendo's first noncartridge system, instead running small-diameter CD-ROM discs. Nintendo sold more than 500,000 GameCubes in the first week of release; after two years on the market, total worldwide sales reached 13 million units.
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    8th Generation Consoles

  • Xbox 360

    Xbox 360
    The Xbox 360 began production only 69 days before launch, and Microsoft was not able to supply enough systems to meet initial consumer demand in Europe or North America, selling out completely upon release in all regions except in Japan
  • PlayStation 3

    PlayStation 3
    The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor to PlayStation 2, and is part of the PlayStation brand of consoles. It was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November 17, 2006, in North America, and March 23, 2007, in Europe and Australia.The PlayStation 3 mainly competes against consoles such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.
  • Nintendo Wii

    Nintendo Wii
    The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. The Wii competed with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. As of the first quarter of 2012, the Wii leads its generation over PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in worldwide sales, with more than 101 million units sold; in December 2009, the console broke the sales record for a single month in the United States.
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    9th Generation Consoles

    The current Generation of Gaming Consoles
  • Nintendo Wii U

    Nintendo Wii U
    The Wii U is a home video game console developed by Nintendo, and the successor to the Wii. The console was released in November 2012 and was the first ninth-generation video game console, as it competed with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.
  • PlayStation 4

    PlayStation 4
    Announced as the successor to the PlayStation 3 during a press conference on February 20, 2013, it was launched on November 15 in North America, November 29 in Europe, South America and Australia; and February 22, 2014, in Japan. It competes with Nintendo's Wii U and Switch, and Microsoft's Xbox One.
  • Xbox ONE

    Xbox ONE
    Announced in May 2013, it is the successor to Xbox 360 and the third console in the Xbox family. It was first released in North America, parts of Europe, Australia, and Brazil in November 2013, and in Japan, China, and other European countries in September 2014. It is the first Xbox game console to be released in China, specifically in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone.The Xbox One line mainly competes against consoles such as Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch.
  • Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo Switch
    The Nintendo Switch is the seventh major video game console developed by Nintendo. It was unveiled in October 2016 and was released worldwide on March 3, 2017. Nintendo considers the Switch a "hybrid" console: it is designed primarily as a home console, with the main unit inserted onto a docking station to connect to a television. Alternatively, it can be removed from the dock and used similarly to a tablet computer through its LCD touchscreen,