Home Page Video Game History
Releases First Arcade Video Game
Nutting manufactures 1,500 Computer Space machines. The components are packaged
with a 13-inch black-and-white TV set in a futuristic-looking cabinet. The
first arcade video game is released, but the public finds it too difficult to
Bushnell hires Al Alcorn to program games. Since Alcorn is inexperienced,
Bushnell has him program a simple video tennis game as an exercise. They call
the game Pong, for two reasons: first, "pong" is the sound the game
makes when the ball hits a paddle or the side of the screen, and second, the
name Ping-Pong is already copyrighted.
Releases Home Video Game
Magnavox sells the Odyssey exclusively through its own stores. People are led
to believe the console will only work with Magnavox televisions. Still,
Magnavox manages to sell 100,000 units. Many people buy it because it is the
closest thing they can get to a home version of Pong.
Introduces Programmable Console
Atari releases its first programmable (cartridge-based) game system, the Video
Computer System (VCS--later known as the Atari 2600), in time for Christmas,
Famicoming to America
Nintendo test-markets its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in New York.
Retailers are so skeptical about video games that Nintendo has to agree to buy
back all unpurchased inventory. Armed with a large number of Nintendo-developed
original titles and arcade games, the NES is a hit in a limited market release.
Monochrome Game Boy
Nintendo releases its handheld Game Boy ($109). The system comes with Tetris,
and despite a tiny monochrome screen, it begins to build a historic sales
record. A Game Boy version of Super Mario (Super Mario Land), a Breakout clone
(Alleyway), and a baseball game are quickly released.
Releases 16-Bit Genesis
Sega releases the 16-bit Genesis in the United States after limited success in
Japan. The $249 system is packed with a conversion of the arcade game Altered
Beast. Early marketing efforts push the system as a true arcade experience
that's substantially better than previous home game machines.
Releases the SNES
Nintendo releases the Super Famicom in America and calls the $249 console the
Super NES (SNES). Journalists begin to wonder aloud whether Mario will be
enough to convince NES-dedicated parents to make the investment in a new
Jumps the Gun
After announcing that the Saturn will be released in the United States on
"Saturnday," September 2, Sega jumps the gun and actually releases
the system in May for $399. Overall sales are very low, and very few titles are
released, because third-party companies are taken completely off guard by the
early debut. Sega and 3DO are ready to announce a joint hardware venture on 3DO
M2 64-bit technology. Although the deal is broken off at the last minute, talks
continue throughout the year. 3DO development slows dramatically in
anticipation of a 64-bit announcement, and Panasonic ultimately acquires the M2
technology for use in home games and other devices. Panasonic reportedly pays
$100 million for it.
Sony releases the PlayStation in the United States for $299, $100 less than
expected. Sales are strong, and a collection of good release titles receives
praise from the media and consumers. Sales of the Atari Jaguar continue to
decline, despite the release of a CD peripheral, which had raised Jaguar
supporters' hopes but was most likely dead on arrival from the perspective of
of the American N64
The N64 is released in United States. More than 1.7 million units are sold in
three months, and once-doubtful third-party developers rush to embrace the
cartridge medium they had previously questioned, if only to cash in on the
immense media popularity of the new machine.
Although Sega officially acknowledges its new 128-bit system, the system's name
continues to be elusive throughout most of the year. Originally code-named
Dural and Black Belt, the system is officially named Katana in early 1998. At
the same time Sega discloses that the new system will use a Microsoft Windows
CE operating system, which will mean easier game conversions to and from the
Lines begin forming outside of Sony's Metreon store in San Francisco roughly 28
hours before the PlayStation is set to go on sale in the United States on
October 26. Eventually, more than 1,000 people line up. Nearly half of them go
2001 Microsoft Officially Reveals the Xbox
As expected, Microsoft and Bill Gates use the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
in January to unveil the production version of the Xbox. Furthermore, Microsoft
reveals that 12 to 20 games will be available at launch, although the only
confirmed titles are Munch's Oddysee and Malice. A game will not be included
with the system. Microsoft does not announce a launch date or price for the Xbox.
out, GameCube In
Nintendo renames the Dolphin. First it becomes the Starcube, and then,
thankfully, it becomes the GameCube. The console, which is shown to the press
only during the first day of Space World, is literally a cube. Instead of using
CDs or DVDs as the storage medium for GameCube games, Nintendo uses a
proprietary optical disc based on Matsushita technology. Nintendo predicts that
this medium will eventually be a standard, as its small size makes it
attractive for future handhelds.