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1970s Video Game Consoles | 1980s Video Game Consoles | 1990s Video Game Consoles | 2000 and Beyond
Top 10 Game Consoles of All Time | 10 Game Consoles That Didn't Catch On | Game Console Clones
Top Brands:Magnavox | Atari | Coleco | Mattel | Nintendo | Sega | Sony | Microsoft
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Atari 2600 (VCS) Screenshots
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Atari 2600 (VCS)
Released October 01, 1977 for $199.00
The Atari 2600, released in 1977, is the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in. It was originally known as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System, and the name "Atari 2600" (taken from the unit's Atari part number, CX2600) was first used in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200.

The initial price was $199 with a library of 9 titles. In a play to compete directly with the Channel F, Atari named the machine the Video Computer System (or VCS for short), as the Channel F was at that point known as the VES, for Video Entertainment System. When Fairchild learned of Atari's naming they quickly changed the name of their system to become the Channel F.

Atari expanded the 2600 family with two other compatible consoles. The Atari 2700, a wireless version of the console was never released due to design flaws. The Sleek Atari 2800 released to the Japanese market in 1983 suffered from competition from the newly-released Nintendo Famicom.


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Nintendo NES Screenshots
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Nintendo NES
Released October 1985
Following a series of arcade game successes in the early 1980s, Nintendo made plans to produce its own console hardware that had removable cartridges, a feature not included with the company's earlier Color TV Games product. Designed by Masayuki Uemura and released in Japan on July 15, 1983, the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) was slow to gather momentum: during its first year, many criticized the system as unreliable, prone to programming errors and rampant freezing. Following a product recall and a reissue with a new motherboard, the Famicom's popularity soared, becoming the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984. Encouraged by their successes, Nintendo soon turned their attentions to the North American markets.

In June 1985, Nintendo unveiled its American version of the Famicom at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). With a completely redesigned case and a new name, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) proved to be just as popular in America as the Famicom was in Japan, and played a major role in revitalizing interest in the video game industry.


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Sega Genesis Screenshots
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Sega Genesis
Released August 1989
It was 1989. Nintendo's NES had reigned supreme in the video game market for nearly five years, and it was time for a new system to take over the throne. Sega's Master System, while graphically superior to the NES, failed to make any kind of lasting impression in the U.S. market (although it was very popular in Europe), and Sega knew that their next system would not only have to be superior to everything else out there, but they'd have to have a lot of third-party developers lined up.

After two years of development, Sega introduced their "next generation" system to the world in late 1989. Known as the Genesis in the West, and the Mega Drive in the east, Sega began an aggressive marketing campaign, not only to customers, but also to developers.

Although NEC's TurboGrafx-16 had beat the Genesis to market by nearly four months, Sega quickly regained lost ground, thanks to their line-up of quality arcade conversions, killer sports games, and most of all, the full support of Trip Hawkins and Electronic Arts.


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Sony PlayStation Screenshots
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Sony PlayStation
Released September 1995
Nintendo asked Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on called "PlayStation" for the SNES. Because Sony wanted 25% of all profits Nintendo earned from sales of this PlayStation and all PlayStation games, after Sony revealed that they were developing it, Nintendo instead went to Philips. This caused Sony to consider abandoning their research, however instead they used what they had developed so far and made it into a full blown console. This led to Nintendo filing a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in U.S. federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of the PlayStation, on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal judge presiding over the case denied the injunction.

The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the USA on September 9, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995. In America, Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre including Toshinden, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, and Ridge Racer. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to produce numerous sequels.


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Nintendo 64 Screenshots
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Nintendo 64
Released September 29, 1996 for $199.00
The Nintendo 64, commonly called the N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console. The N64 was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, September 29, 1996 in North America, 1 March 1997 in Europe/Australia and September 1, 1997 in France. It was released with only two launch games in Japan and North America (Super Mario 64 and PilotWings 64) while Europe had a third launch title in the form of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (which was released earlier in the other markets). The Nintendo 64 cost $199 at launch in the United States.

During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality. The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with then-current super computers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Nintendo Ultra 64, referring to its 64-bit processor, and Nintendo dropped "Ultra" from the name on February 1, 1996, just five months before its Japanese debut.


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Sony PlayStation 2 (SCPH-5000x) Screenshots
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Sony PlayStation 2 (SCPH-5000x)
Released October 2000
The PlayStation 2 had a difficult start. Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. The PlayStation 2 was such a hot item after its release that it was near impossible to find one on retailer shelves, leaving those wanting a PlayStation 2 to either wait or purchase the console on-line at sites such as eBay, where the console was being sold by many people for twice and sometimes five times as much as the manufacturer's listed price.

The PlayStation brand's strength has lead to strong third-party support for the system. Although the launch titles for the PS2 were unimpressive in 2000, the holiday season of 2001 saw the release of several best-selling and critically acclaimed games. Those PS2 titles helped the PS2 maintain and extend its lead in the video game console market, despite increased competition from the launches of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. In several cases, Sony made exclusivity deals with publishers in order to preempt its competitors.


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Microsoft X-Box Screenshots
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Microsoft X-Box
Released November 2001
The Microsoft Xbox is a sixth generation era video game console first released on November 15, 2001 in North America, then released on February 22, 2002 in Japan, and later on March 14, 2002 in Europe. The Xbox was Microsoft's first independent venture into the video game console arena, after having developed the operating system and development tools for the MSX, and having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console include Amped, Dead or Alive 3, Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, and Project Gotham Racing.

In November 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox Live on-line gaming service, allowing subscribers to play on-line Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This on-line service works exclusively with broadband. 250,000 subscribers had signed on in 2 months since Live was launched. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live reached 1 million subscribers, and announced in July 2005 that Live had reached 2 million.


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Microsoft X-Box 360 Screenshots
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Microsoft X-Box 360
Released November 2005
The Xbox 360 is Microsoft's newest video game console, the successor to their original Xbox. It was released on November 22, 2005 in North America, December 2 in Europe, and December 10 in Japan. It will be released on February 2, 2006 in Mexico, February 24 in South Korea, and March 2, 2006 in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

The Xbox 360 will compete against the upcoming generation of consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution, and was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, a week before the E3 trade show.

Except in Japan the console is sold in two different configurations: the "Xbox 360" and the "Xbox 360 Core System". The Xbox 360 configuration, often referred to as the "Premium Edition", includes a hard drive (required for backwards compatibility with original Xbox games), a wireless controller, a headset, an Ethernet cable, an Xbox Live silver subscription, and a component HD AV cable (which can also be used on non-HD TVs).


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Sony PlayStation 3 Screenshots
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Sony PlayStation 3
Released November 2006
The PlayStation 3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. During its first week of release in the United States, PlayStation 3s were being sold on eBay for more than $2300 USD. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot, campers robbed at gunpoint, customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns, and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems. Two GameStop employees fabricated a robbery to cover up their own theft of several PlayStation 3 and four Xbox 360 consoles.

Sony stated every PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game that observes its respective system's TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) will be playable on PS3 at launch. SCE president Ken Kutaragi asked developers to adhere to the TRC to facilitate compatibility with future PlayStations, stating that the company was having some difficulty getting backward compatibility with games that had not followed the TRCs. It has been confirmed (image) that initial PS3 units include the CPU/rasterizer combination chip used in slim PS2 (EE+GS) to achieve backward compatibility.


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Nintendo Wii Screenshots
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Nintendo Wii
Released November 2006
The console was known by the codename of "Revolution" until April 27, 2006, when it was renamed Wii, spelled with two "i"s to imply an image of players gathering together, as well as to represent the console's controllers. It is said Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii"

The Wii Remote is a one-handed controller that uses a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection to sense its position in 3D space. This allows users to control the game using physical gestures as well as traditional button presses. The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth, and features force feedback, 4KB non-volatile memory and an internal speaker. Perhaps the most important of these devices is the Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. In addition, an attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping or throwing the device.


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1970s Video Game Consoles | 1980s Video Game Consoles | 1990s Video Game Consoles | 2000 and Beyond
GameConsoles
Top 10 Game Consoles of All Time | 10 Game Consoles That Didn't Catch On | Game Console Clones
GameConsoles
Top Brands:Magnavox | Atari | Coleco | Mattel | Nintendo | Sega | Sony | Microsoft
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1970-1976 | 1977 | 1978-1979 | 1980-1982 | 1983-1989 | 1990-1993 | 1994-1995 | 1996-2000 | 2001-2011

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