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The history of video games consoles. by Jenette Forbach

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The history of video games consoles. by
Article Posted: 02/27/2013
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The history of video games consoles.


Although the first computer games appeared in the 1950s they used vector displays not video It was not until 1972 that Magnavox released the first home video game console the Magnavox Odyssey invented by Ralph H Baer The Odyssey was initially only moderately successful and it was not until Atari s arcade game Pong popularized video games that the public began to take more notice of the emerging industry By the autumn of 1975 Magnavox bowing to the popularity of Pong cancelled the Odyssey and released a scaled down console that only played Pong and hockey the Odyssey 100 A second higher end console the Odyssey 200 was released with the 100 and added onscreen scoring up to four players and a third gamemash Almost simultaneously released with Atari s own home Pong console through Sears these consoles jump started the consumer market As with the arcade market the home market was soon flooded by dedicated consoles that played simple pong and pong derived games Second generation Main article History of video game consoles second generation Atari 2600 Fairchild released the Fairchild Video Entertainment System VES in 1976 While there had been previous game consoles that used cartridges either the cartridges had no information and served the same function as flipping switches the Odyssey or the console itself was empty and the cartridge contained all of the game components The VES however contained a programmable microprocessor so its cartridges only needed a single ROM chip to store microprocessor instructions RCA and Atari soon released their own cartridge based consoles Video game crash of 1977 In 1977 manufacturers of older obsolete consoles sold their systems at a loss to clear stock creating a glut in the market and causing Fairchild and RCA to abandon their game consoles Only Atari and Magnavox stayed in the home console market Rebirth of the home console market The VES continued to be sold at a profit after the 1977 crash and both Bally with their Home Library Computer in 1977 and Magnavox with the Odyssey 2 in 1978 brought their own programmable cartridge based consoles to the market However it wasn t until Atari released a conversion of the arcade hit Space Invaders in 1980 that the home console industry was completely revived Many consumers bought an Atari just for Space Invaders Space Invaders unprecedented success started the trend of console manufacturers trying to get exclusive rights to arcade titles and the trend of advertisements for game consoles claiming to bring the arcade experience home Throughout the early 1980s other companies released video game consoles of their own Many of the video game systems were technically superior to the Atari 2600 and marketed as improvements over the Atari 2600 However Atari dominated the console market in the early 1980s Video game crash of 1983 Main article Video game crash of 1983 In 1983 the video game business suffered a much more severe crash A flood of consoles of low quality video games by smaller companies especially for the 2600 industry leader Atari hyping games such as E T that were poorly received and a growing number of home computer users caused consumers and retailers to lose faith and interest in video game consoles Most video game companies filed for bankruptcy or moved into other industries abandoning their game consoles Mattel Electronics sold the rights for its Intellivision system to the INTV Corporation who continued to produce Intellivision consoles and develop new games for the Intellivision until 1991 All other North American game consoles were discontinued by 1984 Third generation Main article History of video game consoles third generation The Robotic Operating Buddy that came packaged with the NES In 1983 Nintendo released the Family Computer or Famicom in Japan Like the ColecoVision the Famicom supported high resolution sprites and tiled backgrounds but with more colors This allowed Famicom games to be longer and have more detailed graphics Nintendo brought their Famicom over to the US in the form of the Nintendo Entertainment System NES in 1985 In the US video games were seen as a fad that had already passed To distinguish its product from older video game consoles Nintendo used a front loading cartridge port similar to a VCR on the NES packaged the NES with a Super Mario Brothers game and a light gun the Zapper and originally advertised it as a toy The plastic robot R O B was also sold as an individual purchase item and in some cases packaged with the NES system Like Space Invaders for the 2600 Nintendo found its breakout hit game in Super Mario Bros Nintendo s success revived the video game industry and new consoles were soon introduced in the following years to compete with the NES Sega s Master System was intended to compete with the NES but never gained any significant market share in the US and was barely profitable It fared notably better in PAL territories especially Brazil Fourth generation Main article History of video game consoles fourth generation Sega regained market share by releasing its next generation console the Mega Drive Genesis which was released in Japan on October 29 1988 in the U S in August 1989 renamed as the Sega Genesis and in Europe in 1990 two years before Nintendo could release the Super Nintendo Entertainment System SNES Sega extended the Mega Drive with the Mega CD Sega CD to provide increased storage space for multimedia based games that were then in vogue among the development community Later Sega released the 32X which added some of the polygon processing functionality common in fifth generation machines However the peripheral was a commercial failure due to lack of software support with developers more keen to concentrate on more powerful machines with a wider user base such as the Saturn that followed shortly after Other consoles included in the fourth generation are NEC s TurboGrafx 16 and SNK Playmore s Neo Geo Fifth generation Main article History of video game consoles fifth generation Going from left to right top to bottom Iron Soldier Atari Jaguar Gex 3DO Star Fox SNES Donkey Kong Country 3 SNES Virtua Racing Super 32X Vectorman Mega Drive The first fifth generation consoles were the Atari Jaguar and the 3DO Both of these systems were much more powerful than the Super Nintendo Entertainment System SNES or Mega Drive known as Genesis in North America they were better at rendering polygons could display more onscreen colors and the 3DO used CDs that contained far more information than cartridges and were cheaper to produce Neither of these consoles were serious threats to Sega or Nintendo though The 3DO cost more than the SNES and Genesis combined and the Jaguar was extremely difficult to program for leading to a lack of games that used its extra power Both consoles would be discontinued in 1996 Nintendo released games like Donkey Kong Country that could display a wide range of tones something common in fifth generation games by limiting the number of hues onscreen and games like Star Fox that used an extra chip inside of the cartridge to display polygon graphics Sega followed suit releasing Vectorman and Virtua Racing the latter of which used the Sega Virtua Processor It was not until Sega s Saturn Sony s PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 were released that fifth generation consoles started to become popular The Saturn and PlayStation used CDs to store games while the N64 used cartridges All three cost far less than the 3DO and were easier to program than the Jaguar The Saturn also had 2D sprite handling power on par with the Neo Geo Atari s Jaguar was released to combat the dominance that Nintendo and Sega were fighting for Atari s hope was that by designing a more powerful console it would be able to leapfrog all of the released systems of the day and give gamers a technologically superior system The Jaguar eventually faded away due to a number of reasons For example it was difficult to program thus making it too problematic to have good third party support Another of the Jaguar s pitfalls was the dominance of the previously popular systems In 1995 the releases of the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation brought the end for the Jaguar The failure of the Jaguar put Atari into a poor financial situation and forced it to reverse merge with JTS Inc a short lived maker of hard disk drives to form JTS Corporation The merger effectively ended the company which existed as a small department for minor support of the Jaguar and the selling off of Atari s intellectual properties The 3DO was released in North America in October 1993 Although released to much fanfare like the Jaguar it faded out of the market with little popularity The system was technically superior to all the consoles released at the time but due to the oversaturated market and the hefty US 699 95 price tag the system did not adopt well into the market One unique aspect of the 3DO is that the rights to manufacturing the console itself were licensed to different manufacturers by the 3DO company which only produced the specifications These companies in turn released their own different styles of the same console The Sega Saturn was released in North America on May 11 1995 as the first independent Sega system to use a CD ROM based media standard and used a special dual chip processor The difficulty to program for the two chips in parallel was a factor in the console s demise The Saturn was a mild success but was overshadowed by Sony and Nintendo s dominance of the market The Saturn was discontinued in 1998 with the release of Sega s last console the Dreamcast Sony s PlayStation was released in Japan on December 3 1994 and in North America on September 9 1995 The PlayStation was the eventual result of a breakdown of a business partnership plan between Sony and Nintendo to create a CD add on for the SNES Nintendo changed the deal and went to Philips however with the project nearing completion Sony took what it had and marketed it off as a Sony branded console The PlayStation spawned a whole lineup of consoles from generation to generation and has earned Sony great respect as a video game company becoming the first video game system to sell over 100 million consoles Sony released a redesigned smaller version of the PlayStation entitled the PSone on July 7 2000 The Nintendo 64 was released in North America on September 29 1996 as Nintendo s answer to the growing dominance of the PlayStation It was a 64 bit console the only one generally recognized in that class despite the 64 bit Atari Jaguar which had actually been released earlier Unlike the other companies consoles of the generation the N64 had continued to use ROM cartridges which many saw as a hindrance to gameplay as cartridges have much less memory space and are also more expensive than optical media however Nintendo s answer to this was that unlike CDs cartridges cannot be damaged by a simple scratch to the surface load times are not much of an issue and save data can be stored on cartridge rather than on memory card Nevertheless some believe that Nintendo did this for fear of then growing software piracy issues facing other consoles such as the PlayStation Sony would dominate most of the software market using CD instead of cartridges citation needed Sixth generation Main article History of video game consoles sixth generation This generation saw a move towards PC like architectures in gaming consoles as well as a shift towards using DVDs for game media This brought games that were both longer and more visually appealing Furthermore this generation also saw experimentation with online console gaming and implementing both flash and hard drive storage for game data Sega s Dreamcast released in North America on September 9 1999 was the company s last video game console and was the first of the generation s consoles to be discontinued Sega implemented a special type of optical media called the GD ROM These discs were created in order to prevent software piracy which had been more easily done with consoles of the previous generation however this format was soon cracked as well It was discontinued in 2001 and Sega transitioned to software developing publishing only It also sported a 33 6Kb or 56k modem which could be used to access the internet or play some of the games like Phantasy Star Online online Sony s PlayStation 2 was released in North America on October 26 2000 as the follow up to its highly successful PlayStation and was also the first home game console to be able to play DVDs As was done with the original PlayStation in 2000 Sony redesigned the console in 2004 into a smaller version As of July 2008 140 million PlayStation 2 units have been sold This makes it the best selling console of all time to date The Nintendo GameCube was Nintendo s fourth home video game console and the first console by the company to use optical media instead of cartridges The Nintendo GameCube did not play standard 12 cm DVDs instead employing smaller 8 cm optical discs Microsoft s Xbox was the company s first video game console The first console to employ a hard drive right out of the box to save games and had similar hardware specifications to a low end desktop computer at the time of its release Though criticized for its bulky size which was easily twice that of the competition as well as for the awkwardness of the original controller that shipped with it it eventually gained popularity due in part to the success of the Halo franchise Seventh generation Main article History of video game consoles seventh generation The features introduced in this generation include the support of new disc formats Blu ray Disc utilized by the PlayStation 3 and HD DVD supported by the Xbox 360 via an optional accessory that was later discontinued. online games for kids online games for free

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