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Rin's Room #43: The First Three Generations of Video Games! Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Animation. Media. Entertainment. Woman Owned.

A few of you might know that I really love vintage consoles. In fact, I love them so much that I collect them and even have a tattoo of one of them! That being said, many of us don’t have a lot of knowledge about the history of such old video games and video game consoles, so I’d like to explore some of the creations that helped pave the way for even better consoles.

top_tech_border. Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Animation. Media. Entertainment.1.) Magnavox Odyssey

The very first video games appeared in the 60s–over 50 years ago! Instead of playing on a TV, people played them on huge computers that were connected to a display. Ralph H. Baer drew several different designs for a possible home video game console. He entered an agreement with a company named Magnavox, who released the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972.

At first, his design included switches that allowed players to turn certain sections of the console on and off–doing this would change the games. Magnavox decided to replace this function and created cartridges for each game that could be switched out. It only sold about 100,000 units–so it wasn’t a roaring success.

Atari’s arcade game, Pong, helped bring attention to video games. Magnavox decided to cancel the original Odyssey and released the Odyssey 100, which only played Pong and hockey. After this, many small developers decided to start making video game consoles too–that’s because General Instrument designed inexpensive microchips that could minimize the size and price of a console drastically. Most of the consoles released during this era were limited to in-console games–you couldn’t add any new games.


2.) Atari 2600

The second generation of video games began with the Fairchild Video Entertainment System, called the VES. The VES contained a programmable microprocessor, and you played games with cartridges. Instead of putting all of the game components in the cartridge, developers could just include microprocessor instructions in the cartridge. After the VES, Atari released the Atari 2600. It went on to sell 30 million units and became the most popular game console yet!


3.) Nintendo Game & Watch

The Microvision created the first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges in 1979. Unfortunately, it was discontinued two years later. The Epoch Game Pocket Computer was then released in Japan in 1984, but the systems also sold poorly. Nintendo created the Game & Watch in 1980–each tiny handheld console could only play a single game, but over 60 models were released for the line. It proved to be quite popular and lasted until 1991. Each game console included a single game and a clock, an alarm, or even both–that’s why they were called “Game & Watch”es.

The Game & Watch is actually the predecessor to the legendary Game Boy. The creator of the Game Boy, Gunpei Yokoi, was traveling on a bullet train and saw a businessman playing on an LCD calculator. He was inspired to make a watch that could also double as a mini-console–it would be designed to tell time and kill time. Because of the Game & Watch, handheld consoles became incredibly popular–Tiger Electronics and Casio tried to jump into the trend too.

In the early 1980s, video games in North America suffered a sharp decline in popularity. Cheaper, low-quality games were released. Atari also published E.T. and a special version of Pac-man, but they were disappointing. North American game consoles were all discontinued by 1984.


4.) Famicom/NES

In 1983, Nintendo released the Family Computer, which was most commonly known as the Famicom. The Famicom supported high-res sprites, a broader color palette, and tiled backgrounds, all of which helped Famicom games become more complex and detailed. They released the Famicom in the United States as the Nintendo Entertainment System and marketed the console as a toy rather than a video game.

That was because most people in the United States believed that video games were just a trend that had already passed. Mario became a legendary icon because of the NES. Nintendo also established dominance during this period by forcing developers to enter a contract which limited them to 3 NES titles a year and prevented them from creating games for other video game consoles.

Around this time, Nintendo released the Game Boy, which absolutely crushed any competition and cornered the handheld console market.

bottom_tech_border. Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Animation. Media. Entertainment.

These are the first three generations of game consoles. Do you recognize any of them? Have you ever played on them? It’s important that, whether you’re designing or playing on a console, you know at least a tiny bit about its history. Tell me what you think about these consoles (and their goofy ads) in the comments 🙂


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DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE AUTHOR. THESE VIEWS AND OPINIONS DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THOSE OF SALJACK ENTERPRISES, AND IT’S STAFF, AND ANY/ALL CONTRIBUTORS TO THE SALJACK ENTERPRISES WEBSITES. SALJACK ENTERPRISES MAKES NO WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION REGARDING, DOES NOT ENDORSE, IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH AND IS NOT IN ANY WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LINKED WEBSITES OR ANY CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON IT. IF YOU DECIDE TO VISIT ANY LINKED WEBSITE, YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK, AND IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO REVIEW THE TERMS OF USE OF THE RELEVANT LINKED WEBSITE.

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20 thoughts on “Rin’s Room #43: The First Three Generations of Video Games!

  1. I am a 90’s baby and I am glad that I was able to see the transition from simple games like that to high technology games that we have today. This post gave me nostalgia.

  2. micorobin says:

    I could not agree more. These are legends of the game. I am lucky to have grown knowing both classic and now modern tech.

  3. Today’s generation will never know how awesome these are. Sure they are not as techy like now. However, it gave us something to look forward too and new games are based on the old ones.

  4. I am way too young to have experienced any of this, but I have heard of some of them. I hope there are some people who are selling gaming consoles such as this, I would buy them for sure.

  5. wolfbro92 says:

    This is one of my favorite blogs of yours Rin, simple because it portrays the whole history of gaming so well here. Well done, more bloggers shoould be reading this.

  6. Edwin Kamau says:

    I only recall the Nintendo and its predecessor the famous gameboy. This post bring back the old memories. I think it was really fun having this consoles and even more exciting than nowadays, although things have really transformed.

  7. Del says:

    Saw other kids with their gameboys and honestly had to beg my family members money for to buy my own. The feeling was amazing though i kinda don’t sleep most of the time.

  8. Mhel Rose Aragones says:

    Earliest and fondest memory of childhood – Family Computer! I remember going to my gran’s house just to ask my uncles to let me play Super Mario! I say, I am lucky to be in that generation, and to see this post makes me nostalgic… I hope to see more posts like this, a glimpse from the past.

  9. roberachi says:

    Lol, you were right because I have never heard of either one of the above consoles. Although the Nintendo game and watch sounds really familiar and I think they later modified it into the Nintendo we know and love today.

  10. David Kamau says:

    These are some of the inspiring technologies that led to what we have to date. They were really amazing especially that Nintendo game & watch.

  11. kittyprydexmen says:

    Wow just look at the quality of the ads? If these will be shown nowadays people will complain because of of the quality ha ha. Anyway going old school is a nice touch.

  12. nightcrawlerxmen says:

    Gaming had sure come so far since the 80’s New generation give these pioneers respect because they deserve it.

  13. I can truly relate. I know all of these video games especially Nintendo and Atari 2000. I still remember myself playing the classic Mario and Monkey Kong. Good memories indeed.

  14. numberpardox says:

    So nostalgic 🙂 Brings back the good and fun memories of my childhood. I still remember this video games clearly. Great article Rin 🙂

  15. lordyou says:

    Rins room I meant. You did a great job on this post

  16. lordyou says:

    I am familiar with the Nintendo. But when you compare them to now it is evident that the gaming industry has made huge strides. Great research Lilo.

  17. Opondo says:

    Gosh i remember kids having the Game & Watch at school back then, i totally did not know about this history and i am marveled about your research. Great stuff.

  18. olliivvee says:

    Wow! Amazing research! I am not a gamer but all does ring a bell – thanks to my brother who is an avid fan of these video games. Among all, Nintendo gives me a lot of memories in my childhood. They surely marked a history in the gaming world.

  19. Mau says:

    Haha, I had fun watching those videos. The NES package sounds so cool with the robot and zapper. Considering it was released 1985, it looks pretty high tech to me.

  20. I remember some of these. My brothers played these as children. They were a lot older than me but I saw it and they even showed me the classic game pieces back in the day. Awesome stuff!

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