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TIMELINE: The 73-Year Evolution Of Video Game Consoles

The Early Age: 1947–1976

◘ Thomas Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Man patent the CRT Amusement Device, the first electronic game played by using TV technology.

◘ Alexander Douglas discusses his computer game OXO for his Ph.D. thesis at Cambridge University.

◘ Tennis for Two by Willy Higinbotham is showcased at Brookhaven National Labs, NY.

◘ At MIT, Stephen Russell and friends start programming Spacewar!.

◘ Nutting Associates releases Computer Space by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, the first commercial video game.

◘ Magnavox releases the Odyssey by Ralph Baer, the first home console.
◘ Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney found Atari.
◘ Atari releases its first product: coin operated Pong by Al Alcorn, the first hit in the video game industry.

◘ In the United States, Williams and Midway enter the video game business. Taito does the same in Japan.

◘ Namco distributes Atari’s coin-ops in Japan.

◘ Atari releases Home Pong. Many imitators follow.
◘ Taito’s Gunfight is distributed in the United States by Midway and is the first arcade game to use a CPU (added by Nutting Associates in the US version).

◘ Coleco Telstar games released.
◘ First cartridge-based video game console, Fairchild Channel F, is released.
◘ Bushnell sells Atari to Warner Communications for $28 million. The VCS is in the works under the codename Stella.

The Golden Age: 1977–1993

◘ Nintendo releases its first home video game systems in Japan.
◘ The Atari VCS is released.
◘ The Apple II and the Commodore PET are unveiled at the West Coast Com￾puter Fair. Tandy’s RadioShack releases the TRS-80 personal computer.

◘ Magnavox releases the Odyssey2
, distributed by Philips in Europe as the Vid￾eopac G7000.
◘ Taito’s new game Space Invaders provokes a 100-¥ coin shortage in Japan.

◘ Mattel releases the Intellivision console.
◘ A game called Adventure is released for the VCS and the action/adventure genre
is born, together with the first “easter egg.”
◘ Atari enters the home computer market with the 400 and 800 models to com￾pete with Apple.
◘ Vectorbeam/Cinematronics releases Tail Gunner, the first 3D game, in the ar￾cades.

◘ Activision is formed to produce Atari VCS games. It is the first third-party soft￾ware house.
◘ Namco releases Puck-Man in Japan, aka Pac-Man in the rest of the world.

◘ UK-based Sinclair releases the ZX-80, an extremely basic machine that can
nonetheless be regarded as the first low-cost home computer.
◘ Commodore releases the VIC-20, under the name VIC-1001, in Japan to test the market.

◘ In January, Commodore officially releases the VIC-20, the first low-cost home color computer and the first one to break one million units sold.
◘ Sinclair releases the ZX-81, refining its previous model.
◘ Video game addiction starts to become a problem in many countries and games are often seen as detrimental to the youth. In the Philippines, on November 19, Presi￾dent Marcos bans video games, giving people two weeks to “surrender” any video game to the army and police forces. Violators faced a fine of $600 or 6 months to 12 years in jail. The ban was lifted a few years later.

◘ Cynex releases the Game Mate 2, the world’s first wireless control joysticks, com￾patible with the Atari 2600 and Commodore VIC-20.
◘ The Commodore 64 is released.
◘ Sinclair releases the ZX-Spectrum.
◘ Board game giant Parker Brothers enters the video game market by producing cartridges for different systems.
◘ Coleco introduces the ColecoVision.
◘ Atari releases the 5200 Super System while restyling and renaming the VCS to the 2600.

◘ Due to a number of factors, the industry crashes in North America. Many com￾panies go bankrupt within a couple of years. “Two or three years from now,
video games will be considered a piece of history,” according to Richard Stearns, VP for Consumer Electronics at Parker Bros.

◘ Atari dumps 14 truckloads of game cartridges and other computer equipment in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. A few million cartridges of ET: The Extraterrestrial are included.
◘ Cinematronics releases Dragon’s Lair in the arcades.
◘ In Japan, Sega and Nintendo release the SG-1000 and the Famicom, respectively.

◘ Amstrad CPC is released to compete against the C64 and ZX Spectrum.
◘ Atari discontinues the 5200 system and releases the 7800 instead. The company is split in two and Jack Tramiel buys the consumer division, renaming it Atari Corp. The 7800 is soon pulled out and home computers become the main focus of the restructured company.
◘ Mattel closes its electronics division. Intellivision rights are sold for $20 million to the newly formed INTV Corp.

◘ At the Summer Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo introduces the Ninten￾do Entertainment System (NES). The NES is later officially released in North America at a $125 price.
◘ Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. for the NES. It will sell more than 40 mil￾lion units worldwide.
◘ Commodore Amiga 1000 and Atari ST computers are released.
◘ Sega releases the Master System in Japan (under the name Mark III). North American release will follow in 1986.

◘ Atari re-releases the 7800 ProSystem in the United States (release in Europe will fol￾low one year later) along with a slim version of the 2600, named 2600 Jr.

◘ Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda and Metroid in Japan, both destined to become two of the most beloved game series ever.
◘ The First Computer Game Developers Conference (dubbed “Symposium”) is organized and takes place in the home of famed game designer Chris Craw￾ford.

◘ In Japan, NEC releases the PC Engine video game system (to be released in
North America in 1989).
◘ Commodore releases the Amiga 500, the most successful model in the Amiga line.
◘ Konami releases Metal Gear for the MSX system in Japan while Square releases Final Fantasy for the Famicom.

◘ Nintendo of America debuts the Nintendo Power magazine in the United States, and 3.6 million copies are given away.
◘ Sega releases the MegaDrive in Japan (renamed Genesis for the American market where it was released in 1989).
◘ Sony officially enters the video game industry by designing and producing audio chips for the upcoming Nintendo Super Famicom system.

◘ Nintendo introduces the Game Boy handheld game system, selling it in bundle with Tetris.
◘ Atari introduces the Lynx handheld video game system.
◘ NEC releases a CD-ROM add-on for the PC Engine in Japan, turning it into
the first console to use CD-ROM data.

◘ Nintendo releases the Super Famicom (renamed SNES outside of Japan) and owns 90% of the total video game market share worldwide.
◘ Commodore introduces the 64 Games System. It is a Commodore 64 computer without the keyboard and with the cartridge slot on top.
◘ NEC introduces the TurboExpress hand-held video game system in the United States.

◘ Sega debuts the Game Gear portable video game system.
◘ Nintendo and Sony announce a cooperation to develop a compact disk player for the Super Famicom. The deal breaks apart right after the announcement as Nintendo decides to partner with Philips instead. Sony will go its own way, lead￾ing to the PlayStation a few years later.
◘ Atari releases a new version of the Lynx, slashing the price to $99.
◘ Nintendo introduces the SNES in North America, priced at $199.95.
◘ Philips Electronics releases the CD-I multimedia system, using compact disks for games and other interactive applications. Price is $1,000.
◘ Hosted by AOL and developed by Beyond Software, Neverwinter Nights is the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) to break away from a text-only interface.

◘ Sega releases its CD add-on for the Genesis.

◘ Atari releases the Jaguar, its last system.
◘ Nintendo releases Star Fox for the SNES in the United States. The game is the first with the FX Chip for improved visuals and sounds.

◘ ID Software releases Doom, and PC gaming reaches new heights.
◘ Sega introduces a rating system for its video games: GA (general audience), MA-
13 (mature, minimum age 13), and MA-17 (mature, minimum age 17).
◘ The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer is released with a price of $699.

The Modern Age: 1994–present

◘ GamePro becomes the first video game magazine to sell 500,000 copies of a single issue (January).
◘ Commodore files for bankruptcy.
◘ Sony releases the PlayStation in Japan. CD-based games become the norm.
◘ Sega releases the Saturn in Japan while Sega of America releases the 32X, another add-on for the Genesis.
◘ In Tokyo, Nintendo announces the Virtual Boy, a new video game system that uses a special virtual reality headset to display 3D red images on a black background. It uses six AA batteries for seven hours of gameplay. It will be later released in the United States for $179.95, where it will be a commercial failure.
◘ Apple Computer announces the Pippin video game system, based on the Macin￾tosh personal computer. The system will later be adopted by Bandai Digital En￾tertainment for its own @World entertainment system but it will go completely unnoticed when officially released in 1996.
◘ In Japan, Nintendo and St. Giga television announce the Satellaview service, al￾lowing Super Famicom users to download games via cable service starting from April 1995.

◘ Activision releases its Atari 2600 Action Pak Volume 1 for Windows-based per￾sonal computers. Nostalgic-emulated retrogaming begins.

◘ Nintendo of America announces its Ultra 64 game machine. It is going to be￾come the Nintendo 64.
◘ Sega Saturn is released in the United States at $349.
◘ The first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is held in Los Angeles. Three hundred and fifty game companies show 1,300 games for video game systems and personal
◘ The PlayStation is introduced in the United States and Europe. Price is set at $299.

◘ Nintendo releases the Nintendo 64 worldwide and the Game Boy Pocket por￾table game system in the United States.
◘ Capcom releases Resident Evil, spawning a new series of survival/horror-themed games.
◘ Eidos releases Tomb Raider, imposing the 3D third-person adventure gameplay to the attention of the general public.
◘ DigiPen Institute of Technology starts offering B.S. degrees in Real Time Inter￾active Simulation—the world’s first bachelor degree program dedicated to com￾puter and video game development.

◘ In Japan, Sony begins selling the Net Yaroze, a programmable PlayStation video game system.
◘ Sega launches the Saturn NetLink, allowing the Saturn system to connect to the Internet.
◘ Sony releases the Dual Analog controller for the PlayStation in the United States. The Dual Shock controller will follow one year later.
◘ Sony releases Parappa the Rapper, popularizing music/rhythm-based games.

◘ Hasbro buys Atari’s home video game assets.
◘ Nintendo releases the Game Boy Color handheld video game system while also releasing camera and printer accessories for its handhelds.
◘ SNK releases the NeoGeo Pocket handheld video game system in Japan.
◘ Sega launches the Dreamcast in Japan while also holding a Gamer’s Day in San Francisco. Worldwide release will follow one year later. The Dreamcast is the first system with a built-in modem for online play.

◘ Sony Computer Entertainment introduces the PocketStation handheld video game system in Japan. Games are downloaded from the PlayStation in a new format. Price is about $25.
◘ In Tokyo, Japan, Sony unveils the specifications of its next PlayStation video game system to 1500 invited guests. Nintendo soon announces its next genera￾tion console too, codenamed Dolphin.
◘ In Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, Billy Mitchell plays a “perfect” game of the arcade game Pac-Man in over six hours. It’s the highest score that the game allows—3,333,360—and it can only be accomplished by guiding Pac-Man to eat every dot, fruit, and ghost in all 256 levels.

◘ Sony releases the PlayStation 2, the first console to have built-in DVD capabilities.
◘ At the Game Developers’ Conference in San Jose, California, Bill Gates an￾nounces plans for Microsoft’s Xbox video game console.
◘ Sega launches the SegaNet online gaming network. Dreamcast players can play against other players via the dial-up network. Price is $21.95 per month.

◘ At the Media Art Festival in Japan, the local Agency of Cultural Affairs proclaims the video game Dragon Quest VII, published by Enix for the PlayStation, as the best work of interactive digital art.

◘ Sega announces that it will halt production of the Dreamcast and shift its focus to developing software for other consoles and handheld devices.
◘ Nintendo releases the Game Boy Advance and the GameCube. Prices will be $99.99 and $199.95, respectively.
◘ Microsoft releases the Xbox, the first major console to use a hard disk and to ef￾fectively popularize online gaming. Launch price is set at $299.
◘ Sony ships a limited number of Linux kits for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. The kit includes a 40 GB hard drive, keyboard, mouse, VGA and Ethernet adapters, plus a DVD with Red Hat-based Linux OS. Price is 25,000 ¥. All 2,000 units sell out in under eight minutes.
◘ SNK of Japan shuts down the company. The company was best known for its NeoGeo arcade and home games.
◘ IBM, Toshiba, and Sony announce an agreement to develop a new computer chip, codenamed Cell, likely to be the heart of the next Sony video game system.

◘ Microsoft officially launches the Xbox Live online gaming service in the United States. The service will be available in Europe one year later.

◘ Nintendo releases the Game Boy Advance SP while it manufactures the last Famicom system.
◘ 3DO announces it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States.

◘ Sony introduces the EyeToy camera for the PlayStation 2.
◘ Nokia tries to merge a cell phone and a handheld gaming system and releases the N-Gage. Price in the United States is $300.

◘ Sony releases the Universal Media Disc (UMD)-based PlayStation Portable
handheld system in Japan (North American release in 2005 for $249.99), plus a slimmer version of the PlayStation 2.
◘ Nintendo releases its Nintendo DS dual screen handheld, which can also play Game Boy Advance titles thanks to a special cartridge slot, and announces a new console codenamed Revolution.
◘ Blizzard Entertainment releases World of Warcraft, which soon becomes the most well-known MMO game with millions of active users.

◘ Microsoft releases the Xbox 360 with 18 launch titles. Prices start at $299.99.
◘ At the Tokyo Game Show, Nintendo shows a prototype wireless controller for its upcoming Revolution video game system. It is shaped like a television remote controller and it interacts with sensors placed next to the television to detect movement.

◘ Nintendo renames its new Revolution console the Wii and releases it worldwide.
Launch price is $249.99. The Wii will redefine the concept of playing video
games thanks to its easy-to-use motion-based controls.
◘ Sony releases the Blu-Ray–enabled Playstation 3. Prices start at $499. Release in Europe and Australia will follow in 2007.
◘ Nintendo releases the DS Lite, a slimmer DS, with instant success.

◘ Nintendo launches the Wii Fit exercise game for its Wii console. Price is $90 and it includes a balance board input device that can also be used by other games.
◘ Nintendo releases the DSi, a new DS with a larger screen and a camera but with￾out the Game Boy Advance slot.

◘ Sony releases the PSP Go, removing UMD disk-based games in favor of digital downloads. Also, a new, slimmer version of the PS3 is released.
◘ Nintendo announces that total shipments of its DS portable consoles have
topped 100 million worldwide.

◘ Nintendo reveals a new handheld system, the 3DS, which is able to offer a 3D experience without the need of special glasses.
◘ Microsoft introduces a new slimmer and more reliable version of the Xbox 360.
◘ Sony and Microsoft release their respective motion controlling devices, Move and Kinect.
◘ Panasonic announces its intention to get into the handheld gaming market with the Jungle, a system designed to bring MMO games on the go.


◘ Sony releases the New Playstation Vita PSVITA ,is an eighth generation portable video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. Its code name was Next Generation Portable .


◘ Nintendo releases Wii U ,is a video game console marketed by Nintendo, successor to the Wii

◘ Sony releases the New PSVITA SLIM ,The first eighth generation video game console to come out, it competes with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

the next generation


◘ Sony releases the Eighth generation of Playstation , the New Playstation 4 . Prices start at US$399.99, €399.99, £349.99,, the console features an AMD Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) built upon the x86-64 architecture, which can theoretically peak at 1.84 teraflops

◘ Microsoft releases the Eighth generation of Xbox , the xbox one ,Equipped with an AMD processor, the machine is equipped with a Blu-ray or Blu-ray Ultra HD player and a non-removable hard drive of 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB

2015 :

◘ Nintendo releases The Nintendo Switch , is a video game console produced by Nintendo, succeeding the Wii U. It is the first hybrid console sold on the market7, which can be used as a home console as well as a portable console.

2016 :

◘ Sony has announced two revamped PS4 systems due for release this year; the PS4 Pro, a more powerful mid-generation upgrade previously codenamed PS4 Neo, and a slimline edition of existing PS4 hardware – or PS4 Slim

◘ Microsoft presents a new version of the Xbox One, dubbed the Xbox One S. This new machine is 40% smaller than the original Xbox One and offers a model equipped with a hard drive of 2 TB of storage.

◘ alongside Xbox One S, Microsoft presents the “Project Scorpio”, a console supposed to be released at the end of 201739. Project Scorpio will be the most powerful console in the world capable of displaying native Ultra HD and has 6 Teraflops of graphics power. Project Scorpio (Scorpio is the name of the processor for this new Xbox) was officially presented at E3 2017. It bears the official name of Xbox One X.


◘ The Nintendo Switch Lite[a] is a handheld game console by Nintendo. It was released on September 20, 2019, as a handheld-only version of the Nintendo Switch. It plays most of the same games as the standard Nintendo Switch, and comes in 4 colors.


◘ PlayStation 5 is the next video game console from Sony Interactive Entertainment which has been confirmed for the holiday season 2020.

◘The Xbox Series X (also Xbox Scarlett, Project Scarlett or simply Scarlett) is the new video game console in development announced by Microsoft during E3 2019, whose release is scheduled for December 2020.

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