Manufacturer: Mattel Electronics
Known as the first console to pose a serious threat to Atari’s 2600, the Intellivision sold 175,000 consoles in its first year and started a TV smear campaign against its rival. Interestingly, Mattel rolled out a voice synthesis peripheral in 1982 called the Intellivoice, which made speech integral to gameplay. Intellivision was also known as the first 16-bit console, even though you’d never recognize it as such.
Console: Game & Watch - Japan
These LCD electronic games came in different models - all of which have resembled an iteration of the Game Boy or DS at one point. The Game & Watch pioneered left-handed directional control with the d-pad, seen on every console and handheld in the modern age. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi, who’d later create the GameBoy.
As the first microcomputer to sell a million units, the VIC-20 was designed to be way more economical than the PET - a PC Commodore released three years prior. The VIC-20 played games on cartridge and tape and was the first computer to be sold at a K-Mart. Hell, William Shatner was even the spokesman at one point. The VIC-20 also held the distinction of introducing many software developers to basic programming skills.
Console: IBM PC (model 5150)
Even though the IBM PC appeared in 1975, the price was deemed way too high to compete with cheaper alternatives. The newest model was the first computer to be legally reverse engineered by other manufacturers to create PC or IBM clones - hence that old term “IBM compatible.” Yeah, rivals were able steal the BIOS through backdoor shenanigans.
Console: Sinclair ZX81 - UK
An upgrade to the ZX80, the newer Sinclair model used ordinary audio cassettes for saving and loading programs. This model was known for various oddities, including no sound capability and strangely giving the square root of .25 as 1.359. Sinclair eventually replaced this model with the more popular Spectrum.
Console: Cassette Vision - Japan
Ignore the console name, because this thing played cartridges. And did you know the CV was the first ever programmable console to be made in Japan? The graphics were a little iffy for its time (following the Atari 2600) and controls were located directly on the console (two knobs per player!). Not incredibly successful, but did manage to spawn two spinoff consoles.
Console: Philips Videopac G7200 - UK
Discontinued: Mid 80s
Because Philips was the parent company to Magnavox, Philips released the Odyssey 2 in foreign countries under its own name. This console is the exact same as the O2, except it came with a built-in B&W monitor. Fancy and rare.
Console: Atari 5200 Super System
Created as a powerful successor to the 2600, the 5200 competed with the Intellivision and ColecoVision once it hit the market. Unfortunately, Atari spent more attention on the oversaturated (and far more popular) 2600 rather than their new console. Also, Atari underestimated the value of backwards compatibility - at least until they released an adapter the following year. Generally considered a failure, the newer controller also featured a pause button which has since been seen everywhere in the world of gaming.
Console: Coleco ColecoVision
Manufacturer: Coleco Coleco
Was this a Pong system? Hell no, Coleco came packaged with arcade-hit Donkey Kong, which certainly helped boost its popularity. The ColecoVision was powerful enough to display arcade-quality graphics and even contained the ability to play Atari 2600 games - a nice jab indeed. The detachable controllers included a keypad, smaller buttons and a tiny joystick. Even including the crash of ’83, the CV sold around six million units.
Console: Coleco Gemini
Taking their nefarious ways a step further, Coleco built and sold this 2600 clone. The consoles were pretty much the same, except in controller design (the joystick and paddles were switched around). Atari made some noise (as well they should've), but a judge ruled that because Coleco used off-the-shelf materials for their specific design, they weren’t infringing on any Atari patents.
Console: Commodore 64
The C64 entered the home PC market with 8-bits and a higher color resolution and better sound abilities than the Apple II and IBM PC - its direct competitors. Its success helped muscle Texas Instruments out of the PC market just in time for the industry crash. Even when the Master System and NES appeared on the scene quite a few years later, the C64 exhibited a healthy challenge. And nowadays, you can download some of the games on the Wii Virtual Console.
Console: Arcadia 2001
Discontinued: Soon thereafter
Designed to wage war against the 2600, it was released just as the Atari 5200 and ColecoVision came out. The Arcadia 2001 was created to be portable, so if you were one of several people who owned a portable TV in 1982, then you were golden. It died quickly amongst its more recognizable and way more powerful competitors.
Console: ZX Spectrum - UK
Aptly titled Spectrum (color graphics), the latest ZX model led to a boom in the UK videogame market and had a positive impact on the companies producing software for it. Many enthusiasts made illegal copies of games through tape duplication, leading to increasingly complex prevention techniques. The rubber keyboard was surprisingly comfortable. And it has a rainbow on it!
Console: Intellivision II
Manufacturer: Mattel Electronics
Discontinued: About the same year
A redesigned (and smaller) model of the Intellivision was ordered after the first installment started losing ground to the ColecoVision and the 5200. This version contained detachable controllers and a sleeker case. Because the Intellivision had way more games than the ColecoVision before 2600 compatibility, Mattel designed a “System Changer,” which was an adapter that played 2600 games.
Console: Adam Family Computer
This stunningly lousy system by Coleco elicited an electromagnetic charge upon boot-up, ultimately erasing any media left inside (e.g. games). With an exceptionally high price in 1983 ($725), poor sales and the fact that the computer came packaged with a magnet bomb, the system was kind of a failure and Coleco filed for bankruptcy in 1988. They should’ve made more Pong systems.
Manufacturer: Mattel Electronics
It’s a great sign that once the Aquarius was released, the Aquarius II was announced. Internally dubbed “the system of the 70s,” the Aquarius was a weak PC compared to the TI-99/4A and Commodore’s VIC-20. It used cassette tapes as a secondary storage unit and was on the tip of no one’s tongue.
Console: Apple IIe
The ‘e’ stands for ‘enhanced.’ No, really. It does. The third model in Apple’s insanely popular II series and the longest-lived in computer in Apple’s history, the IIe added a full ASCII character set and keyboard. Also, the ever popular Delete and Tab keys were introduced. Low production costs coupled with an attractive feature set caused a number of these things to be snatched up at retail.
Console: Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) - Japan
After a disastrous release including a product recall, the Famicom bounced back and became the best-selling console in Japan. This is mostly due to the success of console-specific games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda (as opposed to the multi-platform Pac-Man of times past) and to a new business model of software licensing agreements with third-party developers. Even greater success would be found in America’s launch of the system.
Console: Sega SG-1000 - Japan
The SG-1000 marked Sega’s first entry into the console market. It was quietly released and sold moderately. Basically, the SG-1000 was a test ground for the Master System.
Console: Philips Videopac+G7400 - UK
While the G7400 was the UK equivalent of the Magnavox Odyssey 2, the +G7400 was released only in Europe with very limited quantities. RAM and ROM were bumped to 16 KB, meaning specific high-res games could be played in addition to normal G700 games. It kinda looks like a typewriter.
Console: Sony MSX - Japan
Sony’s MSX was a Microsoft of Japan-led attempt to create some unified standards among hardware developers. The console was a success overseas, selling about five million units and was even the major Japanese platform to develop for (until the Famicom was released). Back in those days, Konami and Hudson Soft originally developed for the MSX. In fact, the first-ever Metal Gear was developed specifically for the MSX2, a revision of the hardware.
Console: Apple Macintosh
Discontinued: 1987 with the Mac II
The original Mac was the first commercially successful computer ever to feature not only a mouse, but a graphical user interface (desktop) and not a command-based one. In fact, the bundled software - MacWrite and MacPaint - were designed to show off its GUI. Its ease of use led many to complain that it was nothing more than a toy, a common argument heard today. Also known for that 1984-esque commercial that aired only once during the Super Bowl.
Console: Sega SG-1000 II
Pretty much identical to the original SG-1000, numero dos merely redesigned the console and switched where the keyboard port was. Yup.
Console: Super Cassette Vision - UK
Discontinued: A short time later
As if Epoch didn’t get the hint, they released the Super CV a short time after their original baby didn’t catch on. This time the hardware was improved just slightly. It sold very little in Europe. Besides the Cassette Vision Jr., they didn’t release another console again. Shame.
Console: Amstrad CPC 464/CPC664 - UK
Discontinued: The whole line was discontinued by 1990
Amstrad build these PCs as direct competitors to the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. The CPC 454 was packaged with its own monitor (still pretty rare at the time) and a built-in cassette deck. The 664 contained a built-in floppy disk drive instead of the tape deck. However, later in ’85, they replaced their hardware yet again. The strategy here is: if one computer don’t get ‘em, a few dozen more might.
Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
North America’s Famicom counterpart, the NES ruled the console roost up until its successor, the SNES, came along in 1991. Debut franchise series on this system include Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, Castlevania, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The incredible sales in North America, combined with Japanese popularity helped cement the NES as one of the highest-selling consoles of all time (estimated 62 million units sold) and evolved Nintendo into a serious gaming publisher whose popularity still exists today.
Console: Atari ST
Atari’s commercially popular PC was based on Motorola hardware and was the first computer to come with a fully bit-mapped graphical interface. Even though the ST competed with the Apple Mac and Commodore Amiga, the ST was cheaper and ideal for business use.
Console: Commodore Amiga
Cheaper than the Apple Mac and IBM PC, the Amiga was especially popular with professions relating to video production. As a 16-bit (and later 32-bit) machine, the Amiga was popular enough to warrant a new design every year or so. The company stopped producing Amigas in 1996.
Console: Intv System III
Manufacturer: INTV Corp.
Intellivison changed their name to INTV Corp and released the INTV System III (or Intellivision III). Priced at $60, it went on to reach $6 million in sales worldwide. New games like Super Pro Football and Pole Position went head to head against Sega’s Master System and the NES.
Console: Sega SG-1000 Mark III - Japan
Released as a direct competitor to the Famicom/NES, the Mark III was backwards-compatible with the other SG-1000s and used “Sega Cards” (additional slot for games) along with its cartridge system. Video hardware and an increased amount of RAM did wonders for the system as it made minor waves when it was renamed the Master System a few short months later.
Console: Sinclair ZX Spectrum + - UK
Same as the original Spectrum, but included a new reset button and injection-molded keyboard.
Console: Amstrad CPC 6128
Replaced the CPC 664 released only just a few months beforehand. Came with the new built-in floppy drive and 128KB of memory. Hot diggity damn!
Console: Atari 2600 Junior
Right before the Atari 7800 launched, Atari made a push to revitalize interest in their (at that point) technologically inferior 2600. Hence the Jr. edition. Retailed for $50 and wasn’t that great compared to Nintendo or Sega’s worst efforts.
Console: Sega Master System
Known as the SG-1000 Mark III in Japan, the Master System was a direct threat to Nintendo’s entertainment system, but it didn’t really matter since the NES held 95% of the North American gaming market. No matter - after dismal sales Sega bounced back with a vengeance.
Console: Atari 7800
Because the 5200 was so abysmal, the 7800 was created to reestablish market dominance (that didn’t happen). But the 7800 fixed everything wrong with the 5200 - simple joysticks, fully backwards compatible and was completely affordable at $140. However, the number of titles developed specifically for the 7800 were the lowest of any Atari console up until that point. Profitable due to low investments, yet nowhere near as popular as the NES.
Console: Famicom Disk System - Japan
A system designed to use floppy disks for data storage; you hooked it up to the Famicom and enabled temporary program storage for larger games and save states. The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Kid Icarus were some of the first games released to utilize this feature, even though they were subsequently ported as cartridges. Never made it to the States.
Console: Sharp Twin Famicom - Japan
Sharp released a combined console of both Famicom and the disk system under a licensed agreement. La-dee-da.
Console: Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 - UK
After Amstrad bought the Sinclair range, they released the Spectrum +2 under their Sinclair banner. This new console was pretty much the same as the last one, except it had dual joystick ports and a built-in cassette recorder. That’s it.
Console: Atari XE
Discontinued: Relatively quickly
Now that Nintendo was raking in cash, Atari was throwing out computers and game consoles left and right trying to snag some of that market. The XE was a repackaged 65XE (part of their home computer line) and came bundled with a keyboard, joystick and light gun. Too bad they couldn’t really market the damn thing and didn’t end up selling very many units.
Console: Commodore Amiga A500
Commodore’s best-selling model in the Amiga line, the A500 was the first low-end Amiga PC. The A500 was extremely popular for its use as a gaming machine and not as another boring computer.
Console: Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3 - UK
Looking remarkably similar to the +2, the +3 had a black case and featured a built-in floppy disk drive. Also, a bunch of small hardware changes were made that enabled you to do slightly better things. Like most hardware upgrades.
Console: PC Engine
Discontinued in: 1999
NEC's popular-in-Japan console that actually fended off the Famicom but was a non-issue in the US and Europe. Technically superior and later enhanced by a CD-ROM drive, the PC Engine hit US shelves as the TurboGrafx-16. It used game cards (called HuCards) instead of carts, and ended up being remodeled and tinkered with so many times that we're kind of glad it never took off over here. At least the TurboDuo had some quality games...
Console: Mega Drive
Discontinued in: 1998
Sega's first big success actually flailed for a while in Japan before soaring to great popularity elsewhere after Sonic the Hedgehog dethroned Mario. Far and away Sega's most popular console, it was known in the US as the Genesis, presumably due to a trademark dispute with Mega Drive Systems, Inc. Fascinating!
Discontinued in: 1998
The US Mega Drive. At one point it was so successful it actually had Nintendo on the defense with a constant 50/50 handle on the market. This was achieved via savvy marketing (Genesis Does What Nintendon't), near arcade perfect games (Altered Beast, Space Harrier) and deals with celebrities (Michael Jackson, Joe Montana, Buster Douglass). It all made Sega seem like the cool console and Nintendo the kiddie system.
This is where the term "console war" really got going - people would get in actual fights (including some then-children GR editors) over this stuff. It wasn't until Sega went batshit insane with the near-simultaneous releases of Sega CD, 32X and Saturn that it started to lose control of the market, eventually ceding to the SNES.
Discontinued in: 1994
Interesting, this one. Lynx came out roughly the same time as the Game Boy, had a color screen and superior visuals, yet failed miserably, with less than a million units sold to date. Goes to show that all the hardware in the world can't make up for lack of games, something both Game Boy and Game Gear had in abundance. Cat names would eventually spell the end of Atari, as both Lynx and Jaguar are little more than humorous footnotes, even with fairly active homebrew audiences.
Console: Game Boy
Discontinued in: 1999
You're looking at one of the most successful, popular and long-lived gaming machines of all time. In addition to the backwards-compatible Game Boy Color, it's sold nearly 120 million units since its 1989 release, with several colors and limited-edition variants spicing thing up in between. Yes, it had fugly, blurry green graphics that looked kinda crappy even then, but its battery life and software support were so impressive you couldn’t not own one. This little machine also supported multiplayer via link cable, spawned the very first Pokemon game in 1996 and was initially bundled with Tetris - perhaps the smartest move Nintendo has ever made.
Discontinued in: 1990
The first of many, many bizarre revisions to the TG-16, this one had mildly altered innards and never left Japan. There were only seven games developed specifically for it (it also played older PC Engine and CD games) and it quickly faded away. Bring on the TurboDuo!
LIST OF GAME CONSOLE PER YEAR MODEL
Magnavox Odyssey 100
Magnavox Odyssey 200
Atari Super PONG
Coleco Telstar Classic
Fairchild Channel F
Magnavox Odyssey 300
Magnavox Odyssey 400
Magnavox Odyssey 500
RCA Studio II
Wonder Wizard 7702
Atari Stunt Cycle
Atari VCS 2600
Atari Video Pinball
Coleco Telstar Alpha
Coleco Telstar Combat
Magnavox Odyssey 2000
Magnavox Odyssey 3000
Magnavox Odyssey 4000
Bally Professional Arcade
Coleco Telstar Arcade
Coleco Telstar Colortron
Coleco Telstar Gemini
Zircon Channel F System II
Emerson Arcadia 2001
Mattel Intellivision II
Atari 2600 Junior
NEC Turbo Grafx 16
Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Master System
Nintendo Entertainment System 2
Panasonic 3DO Interactive
Sega CD for Genesis
Sega Master System II
Atari Jaguar CD
Panasonic 3DO FZ-10
Sega CD for Genesis 2
Sega Genesis 2
Sega Genesis 32x
SNK NEO-GEO CD
Sega Genesis 3
Sony PlayStation 2
Sony PlayStation PS1
Super Nintendo 2
Microsoft X-Box 360
Nintendo Game Cube
Sony PlayStation 2
Sony PlayStation 3