Home Games

These home game consoles are displayed, and in some cases, available for play in VIDEOTOPIA. All photographs on this page are taken from VIDEOTOPIA, and are copyright 1997, 1998, Electronics Conservancy.

Magnavox Odyssey - 1972. Designed by Ralph Baer in 1966 and assisted by Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch of Sanders Associates, a military electronics firm. The Odyssey was introduced on January 27, 1972 at a price of $100. Because microchips were so expensive, the Odyssey was designed using only 40 transistors and 40 diodes. This allowed the unit to generate only very simple on-screen effects. To make the games more interesting, the Odyssey was packaged with several plastic overlays to be placed on the TV screen to simulate complex graphics. Players had to keep score themselves because the machine was incapable of doing so. The unit was packaged with its screen overlays, two controllers, six game cards, play money, playing cards, a roulette and football playfield, a fold-out scoreboard, poker chips and a pair of dice.
Atari PONG - 1975. Designed by Al Alcorn, Bob Brown, and Harold Lee. Released under the Sears Telegames brand name, PONG went on sale at 900 Sears stores across the country in January, 1975, and was the number one hit that Christmas season. The machine gave Atari a reputation for quality home games as well as arcade machines.
Fairchild Channel F - 1976. Released in August 1976, Fairchild Camera and Instruments' Channel F system refined the concept of the "programmable" videogame console. The appeal of the system was that additional games could be purchased in the form of "Videocart" cartridges.
Atari Video Computer System (VCS) - 1977. Designed by: Joe Decure, Harold Lee, and Steve Meyer. Better known as the Atari 2600, the Atari VCS was the most popular videogame console of its day. Available until 1990, the VCS was on the market longer than any other system in history. The VCS was released in October 1977, at a retail price of $199.95. The heart of the system was a 1.19 Mhz 8-bit Motorola 6507 microprocessor. The machine contained 256 bytes of RAM to produce on-screen images.
Milton Bradley Microvision - 1979. Designed by Jay Smith. The Microvision was first to combine the portability of handheld electronic games with the programmability of systems like the Atari VCS. The base unit contained a 2 inch square LCD screen and a dial control. The base unit itself had no CPU. Each Microvision cartridge came with its own 4-bit microprocessor.
Mattel Electronics Intellivison - 1980. The graphics of the Intellivision Master Component were a marvel compared to those of its main competitor - the Atari VCS. However, the system traded speed for its higher level of graphic detail. The Intellivison also featured innovative add-ons like PlayCable, a 24-hour service that delivered games into the home via cable-TV.
Coleco Colecovision - 1982. When Coleco released the Colecovision in 1982 at $199.95, it was the system to get. It contained 48K of RAM, the amount of memory available in most home computers at that time. The Colecovision was driven by a 3.58 Mhz. 8-bit Z-80A microprocessor. Coleco planned many "Expansion Modules" for the system. One of these announced modules would turn the Colecovision into a home computer. This module eventually became the ADAM computer system.
Atari 5200 SuperSystem - 1982. Atari released the Atari 400 and the Atari 800 computers. Both computers had cartridge slots and built-in joystick ports. Although they were both powerful computers, the 400 (pictured right) only had 16k of RAM and a membrane keyboard which made typing difficult. The Atari 5200 (pictured left) was basically an Atari 400 computer without the keyboard.
Milton Bradley/GCE Vectrex - 1982. Designed by John Ross, Gerry Karr, John Hall and ex-Atari employees Paul Newell and Mark Indictor from an idea by Jay Smith. The Vectrex was released at a price of $199. It incorporated a 9 inch Vector graphic monitor and used a Motorola 68A09 8-bit microprocessor. The original designers now hold the rights to the machine and allow fans to copy and produce hardware and even new software in gratitude for their loyalty to the system.
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) - 1985. Designed by Masayuki Uemura. Nintendo released its Famicom (Family Computer) in late 1983. The system featured an 8-bit 6502 microprocessor and a custom graphics chip that produced 52 colors, while advanced previous systems had a maximum of 16. The Famicom also contained far more RAM than any previous console. Nintendo released the system in New York City during the Christmas season of 1985. The Famicom, now called the NES, came with game controllers, a light-gun and R.O.B. - the Robotic Operating Buddy.
Nintendo Game Boy - 1989. Designed by Gumpei Yokoi and Nintendo R&D Team #1. The Game Boy was a portable system that used a black and green LCD screen and was programmable with its interchangeable cartridges. It contained a 1.1 Mhz 8-bit Microprocessor and was released at a price of $100. Game Boy was a huge success with adults as well as children.
NEC Turbografx-16 - 1989. Released in Japan in 1988 as the PC Engine, the system was renamed the Turbografx-16 when it reached North America in 1989. Although NEC advertised the Turbografx-16 as a 16-bit game machine, it actually had an 8-bit CPU. It did contain a separate 16-bit graphics chip however. The Turbografx-16 became the first system to have a CD-player attachment.
Atari Lynx - 1989. After designing the advanced Commodore Amiga home computer, R.J. Mical and Dave Needle decided to create the first color portable programmable game system. Introduced at a price of $149, the Lynx's CPU was an 8-bit microprocessor, and its screen was large and capable of displaying detailed colorful images.
Sega Genesis - 1989. Recognizing that great games sold systems, Sega took elements from its 16-bit arcade machines and produced the Mega-Drive in 1989. When the machine reached American stores it was called the Genesis, and it retailed for $199. Featuring a version of the Motorola 68000 16-bit microprocessor that had powered the original Apple Macintosh, the new console was capable of running excellent translations of Sega arcade hits.
3DO Interactive Multiplayer - 1993. Designed by R.J. Mical and Dave Needle. 3DO was the first game system based only on CD technology. The console could play VHS quality video, as well as CD quality sound. The 3DO Company itself was also a change of pace. It did not build anything and allowed other companies to make their own versions of the 3DO for a fee. The Panasonic REAL FZ-1 3DO player used a 12.5 Mhz 32-bit microprocessor and was released in late 1993 at a price of $699.95.
Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation - 1995. The Sony Playstation (pictured right) used a 33 Mhz 32-bit microprocessor specifically designed to produce polygon graphics. The Playstation began its life as a CD attachment for the Super NES. When Sony and Nintendo disagreed on the way the new device would be marketed, Sony decided to further develop the Playstation into a game machine of its own.
Sega used twin 28.8 Mhz 32-bit microprocessors and parallel processing to power its Saturn system (pictured left). Like the Genesis, the Saturn benefited from translations of Sega arcade games to help drive its popularity.
Nintendo Virtual Boy - 1995. Designed by Gumpei Yokoi. Powered by a 10 Mhz 32-bit microprocessor and using a display system developed by a Massachusetts company named Reflection Technologies, the Virtual Boy displayed objects that seemed to actually exist in 3-Dimensions. Images were produced on 2 tiny mirrored screens, one for each eye, in two colors - red and black. Virtual Boy was priced at $179.99 when released.
Nintendo 64 - 1996. Packing the power of a 1980s supercomputer into a $150 game machine, the Nintendo 64 used a 93.75 Mhz 64-bit microprocessor as it's CPU. The Nintendo 64 was jointly designed by Nintendo and Silicon Graphics. The system's controller itself was revolutionary, designed specifically for control of the 3-D games that had become so popular. The Nintendo 64, as well as the 32-bit machines from Sega and Sony, out-powered the personal computers in terms of game playing and exposed players to worlds of entertainment previously unimaginable.

Each home console exhibit in VIDEOTOPIA offers at least 3 times more information than what is presented for each console here!


VIDEOTOPIA and Electronics Conservancy are registered trademarks of The Electronics Conservancy, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos (c)1997, 1998 Electronics Conservancy. All videogames, characters, brand names, and trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.