Every time I start playing a few games on my Xbox 360, I couldn’t help but wonder how it all went. My parents always tell me that video games weren’t exactly popular at the time and that it was considered an idea of the future. With this in mind, I began to recall my early childhood memories when it comes to video games. And since I had nothing good to do today, I decided to do a little research on the entire history of video game consoles. To my surprise, I realized that the first console I had as a child was not exactly the “first game console”. I had the idea that my old console was the first to be produced, so I suppose it was worth doing some research on video game consoles.
Regardless, let’s start our blast from the past as I take you back to the humble beginnings of our beloved video game consoles.
The idea of playing in front of television was considered absurd and a thing of the future. All but one Ralph Baer who conceived an absurd idea; the ability to interact with your television, including playing games on it. This was in 1951 while I was building televisions for Loral in the Bronx, New York. In 1966, he successfully developed a game called “Chase” in which two dots chased each other across the screen. He showed the idea to his new boss, R&D owner Herbert Campman, they gave him some funding and the company took his project official. A few years later, Ralph Baer successfully made the “Brown Box”, which is considered the great-grandfather of all video game consoles.
A few years later, Magnavox decided to invest in video games and made the first video game console called the Magnavox Oddysey. In fact, it was an innovation, since it was the first video game that can be connected to a television. It was also the first when it comes to console peripherals, as you can buy a light gun that you can connect to the console when playing shooting games.
In 1975, Atari came up with its own game console together with Pong, a game that would remain a popular concept until now. However, the console has no controllers; in fact, the console looks like a controller unto itself, so you could probably say that it’s the granddaddy of all portable TV games. Then came the Atari 2600. Released in 1977, it would become so popular that it was the only console other than Magnavox to survive the first game console crash of 1977. Both companies continued to make games for their respective consoles until the second crash of the 1983 game console. Atari and Magnavox suffered from having too many poorly developed games, which explains why Nintendo became a very popular game brand in this era. It was in this year that the Nintendo Entertainment System was developed and launched.
In Japan, it was called “Famicom”, while in North America it was called “NES” or simply “Nintendo”. This was my first video game console, and from what I can remember, I played tons of games with this console. Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Contra, Megaman and many other games filled my cabinet instead of Barbie dolls and other girly things. Nintendo’s success continued until Sega rose to challenge its gaming console with the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis console. Released in Japan in 1988, the Sega console gained popularity with the title character of the video game and Sega’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, the only reason I begged my parents to get me a Sega Mega Drive was because I wanted to play Sonic the Hedgehog.
Nintendo felt that Sega was getting popular, so two years after the release of the Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Enterntainment System, or SNES. The SNES was also popular with children at the time. In fact, most of my friends are confused as to which console they would want to buy for Christmas.
Then in 1995, the era of 16- and 32-bit games was now overshadowed by the Sony Playstation. The video game console sported better graphics, better hardware and software support, a new set of handy controllers, and the memory card, a device that allows gamers to store their saved games. In fact, it was revolutionary, since it no longer uses cartridges, but disk drives. Sega and Nintendo responded with the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64, but when it comes to the fifth generation of video game consoles, Sony’s Playstation is king.
Years passed and in 1999, PCs were now designed for gaming too. Sega released the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, but it was poorly received and finally discontinued in 2001 because they tried to implement a type of disk drive called GD-Rom. It was a move to prevent software piracy, but instead it led to poor sales. Nintendo Gamecube suffered the same fate when it released Gamecube; the console only plays 8mm drives and was discontinued in 2007. Sony, on the other hand, experienced great success with the Playstation 2, while Microsoft released the Xbox in 2001.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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