Video game consoles have come a long way over the past couple of years. They however came into existence a long while back, in the late 1960s because technology had started coming up and the world was finally catching on. In the early 1970s the gaming industry finally began to take shape as more technology companies sought to give consumers gaming consoles, machines people did not know they even needed. Now we look back at some of the most iconic and revolutionary video game consoles of their time, classic pieces to marvel at.
1972 Magnavox Odyssey
Much is credited to the Magnavox for being one of the earliest consoles ever produced. It was designed by Ralph H. Baer and his team and it provided the staple console design that is used to date; the console itself being a box with two controllers. The controllers were rectangular in shape, not very ergonomic but at its release it sure did get the job done. The job itself was controlling dots on the screen using the three knobs and the single button on the controllers.
1976 Coleco Telstar
The Telstar in a span of two years sold over a million units in about 2 years making it one of the biggest successes of its time. The reason it had such a short run is because the Telstar was a series of 14 different consoles. Having this many units being produced made it very difficult for Coleco cover its operating cost. This was a great console because it offered variety in the games it had integrated.
1976 Fairchild Channel F
This console came with a 64-byte RAM and 2 KB video buffer with a joystick and keypad controller. It was a fresh take from Alpex Computer as a competitor to the Atari VCS. The controllers were detachable for better storage when not in use. The console was programmable and a key feature of this console was the ‘hold’ button which allowed a player to stop and alter the speed of play.
1977 Atari 2600
Atari in the later years of the twentieth century was a powerhouse when it came to gaming. Steve Jobs worked with them in the earlier years of his life. I would have worked for them too because the 8-bit CPU with 128 bytes of RAM was unlike anything else in its time. Atari were simply way ahead of the rest, almost racing only against themselves. The 2600 helped Pac-Man become what it is now, a timeless classic, simply because it was one of its highest selling games.
Mattel came to the fore with the Intellivision which was not as successful as the Atari but it did come with a GI AY-3-8914 which allowed it produce sound. Most consoles of this era had no sound and this instantly turned it into a notable console.
1989 Sega Genesis
In the 1980s there was a lot of technological competition between the United States and Japan. From this came the Japanese gaming console which was one of the first gaming console by Sega as they shifted from producing arcade games. Its iconic reputation stems from the overwhelming popularity of Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog games in America during the ‘console war’ with Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
1990 Super Nintendo Entertainment System
The Super Famicom was the answer Nintendo had for Sega. If Sega was successful with the Genesis, then Nintendo was super successful with the SNES. It sold close to 50 million units during its 13-year lifespan and this was thanks to games such as Super Mario and Donkey Kong. It was a 16-bit processing king well into the 32-bit era because it could accommodate different types of enhancement chips which were embedded in game cartridges. Though it came later to market compared to the Sega Genesis, Nintendo sure did have the last laugh.
1994 Sony PlayStation
All the consoles above had their time at the helm but not so much as that of the PlayStation. This console was a gamers delight. The design, largely thanks to Ken Kutaragi, was ergonomic in the best way. The controllers felt at home when you held then and the controls were simple. Its development was as a result of a failed collaboration with Nintendo to design a CD-ROM for the SNES. It being non-programmable and linear similar to the ethos of iPhone products made it very attractive to parties that could work exclusively with Sony for the development of its games. The end result was that the over 7000 games produced all were both unique and beguiling. It went on to sell over 100 million units in less than a decade not because of just one game but because it had something for everyone. It was a console fit for kids, teenagers and adults.
The Xbox arrived at the turn of the century, an indication of good things to come from Microsoft as they found their way into the gaming arena. Microsoft were going up against Sony, at this time Sony had already gone through the proving ground and had marked its territory. The Xbox was an American attempt at trying to gain back the market share once commanded by Atari. Though not nearly as successful as the PlayStation, it still is a gaming noblesse.
Video game consoles have come a long way over the last couple of years. However, gaming is still evolving and a lot is yet to be discovered. The path to get to the present has not been smooth but it most definitely has been worthwhile. Keeping in touch with our past helps us face the future, who knows what direction gaming will take, every individual effort made in creating this gems was and still is highly valued.