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The Evolution of Gaming Consoles

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The editors at Online Game Design Degrees and Schools decided to research the topic of:

The Evolution of Gaming Consoles



- Brown Fox


- Magnavox Odyssey


- Magnavox Odyssey 100
- Magnavox Odyssey 200


- Atari Pong
- Coleco Telstar
- Fairchild Channel F
- Magnavox Odyssey 300
- Atari Pong Doubles & Atari Super Pong
- Wonder Wizard 7702


- RCA Studio II
- Coleco Telstar Arcade
- Atari VCS 2600
- Nintendo Color TV Game series
- Coleco Telstar Alpha, Telstar Colormatic, Telstar Ranger
- Magnavox Odyssey 3000
- Magnavox Odyssey 4000
- Atari Video Pinball
- Atari Stunt Cycle


- Bally Professional Arcade
- Telstar Sportsman, Telstar Combat!, Telstar Colortron, Telstar Marksman
- Magnavox Odyssey 2
- APF-M1000


- Mattel Intellivision
- Milton Bradley Microvision


- Epoch Cassette Vision
- Bally Computer System


- Emerson Arcadia 2001
- ColecoVision
- Bandai Arcadia
- Milton Bradley Vectrex
- Atari 5200
- Bally Astrocade
- Coleco Gemini


- Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) (JPN)
- Casio PV-1000
- Sega SG-1000
- Milton Bradley Vectrex
- Mattel Intellivision II
- Columbia Home Arcade


- Sega Mark III (JPN)


- Atari 7800
- Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (US)
- Sega Master System (US)


- NEC PC Engine


- NEC PC Engine CD-ROM2
- Sega Genesis


- NEC SuperGrafx
- NEC TurboGrafx-16


- Super Famicom (JPN)
- SNK NeoGeo AES
- Sega Master System II


- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (US)
- Philips CD-i
- Commodore CDTV


- Sega CD
- NEC TurboDuo
- Sega Genesis 2


- Atari Jaguar
- Panasonic 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
- Commodore Amiga CD32
- Sega CD 2


- Sony Playstation
- Sega Genesis 32X
- Bandai Playdia
- Sega Saturn
- SNK Neo Geo CD


- Nintendo Virtual Boy
- Casio Loopy


- Nintendo 64
- Sega Skeleton Saturn


- Sega Genesis 2
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System 2


- Sega Dreamcast


- Sony Playstation 2
- Sony PSone


- Microsoft Xbox
- Nintendo GameCube


- XaviX XaviXPORT


- Microsoft Xbox 360


- Sony Playstation 3
- Nintendo Wii


- Nintendo Wii U


- Playstation 4
- Xbox One

Timeline Source


The Ones to Remember

The Brown Box - In 1966 engineer Ralph Baer began experimenting with a project to allow consumers to interact with their televisions. Baer and his colleagues referred to the prototypes as boxes and numbered them one through seven, the last of which was referred to as "The Brown Box." Among the first games was the "fox-and-hounds" game, one player controlled a number of white dots which they used to chase and corner the opposing player's red dot. In 1968 Baer went in search of a company to take his product public. The prototype referred to as "The Brown Box" is now in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.


Magnavox Odyssey - In 1971 Magnavox became the first to license Baer's "TV Game" and developed the Odyssey home video console based on the technology. The Odyssey had no audio output and could only display black and white images, using translucent screen overlays to simulate color. The Odyssey sold 330,000 units by 1975.

- Manufacturer: Magnavox
- Released: May, 1972
- Price at launch: $100

Atari 2600 - After their success with a standalone Pong Console, Atari would go on to create the Atari Video Computer System (Renamed the Atari 2600) "With full-color output, sound, and cartridge-based games, the 2600 became the most successful home console yet" (from BusinessWeek) It would sell 30,000,000 units, and is still in the top 10 best selling consoles of all time.

- Manufacturer: Atari
- Released: November, 1977
- Price at launch: $200

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) - After the Famicom's success in Japan, Nintendo brought the console to the U.S. and renamed it the Nintendo Entertainment System. With the decline of the video game console market in 1983, Nintendo decided to market the NES as a toy and appeal to younger audiences. This combined with little game called Super Mario Bros, helped jumpstart the console market and made the NES wildly successful. To date it has sold 61.91 million units.

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Released: October, 1985
- Price at launch: $199

Sega Master System - Sega's answer to the NES, the Master System was based on their Mark III console sold in Japan. The Master System never sold as well as the NES, either in Japan or in the U.S., it was however quite successful in South America and Europe. Of the 15 million units it sold, 5 million were in Brazil and at least 7 million were in Western Europe.

- Manufacturer: Sega Enterprises
- Released: June, 1986
- Price at launch: $200

Turbografx 16 - The first to be marketed as a 16-bit console, the Turbografx 16 was also the first console to make use of a CD-ROM peripheral.

- Manufacturer: NEC Technologies, Inc.
- Released: October, 1987
- Price at launch: $199

Sega Genesis - Based on Japan's Sega Mega Drive, the Genesis was the 16-bit follow up to the Sega Master System. With games like Sonic: The Hedgehog, Sonic: The Hedgehog 2, and Aladdin, the Genesis would sell over 40 million units and end up as Sega's best selling system.

- Manufacturer: Sega Enterprises
- Released: October, 1988
- Price at launch: $200

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) - Based on the 16-bit Super Famicom system, the SNES was a direct competitor with the Sega Genesis which came out two years before. Its new Mode 7 graphics allowed for background scaling, giving the illusion of depth, this coupled with games like F-Zero made the SNES incredibly popular. Despite the Genesis' headstart, the SNES would go on to outsell it with 49.1 million units sold.

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Released: August, 1990
- Price at launch: $199

Sega Saturn - Successor to the Genesis, the 32-bit Sega Saturn had multiple processors for different purposes, making it difficult to develop games for. Despite having relatively few titles available at launch, The Sega Saturn sold 170,000 units in Japan in its first day. The system also featured online multiplayer with its NetLink adapter, used by games like Duke Nukem 3D, Virtual On, and Saturn Bomberman.

- Manufacturer: Sega Enterprises
- Released: November, 1994
- Price at launch: $399

Sony PlayStation - The PlayStation originally began as a collaboration between Sony and Nintendo. Nintendo, wanting to create a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo. After Nintendo secretly canceled the deal, Sony took what they learned and focused it into making a standalone system, The Sony PlayStation. $100 cheaper than the Sega Saturn, and with games like Tekken, Wipeout, Twisted Metal, and Final Fantasy VII, the PlayStation would quickly outsell its competitors and eventually sell over 100 million units.

- Manufacturer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Released: December, 1994
- Price at launch: $299

Nintendo 64 - The N64 was a massive leap forward for Nintendo. Its 64-bit processor had double the power of the PlayStation, which had come out two years prior. Nintendo decided to stick with using cartridge-based games, severely hampering sales and losing them a number of partners, including Square-Enix (Squaresoft at the time)

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Released: June, 1996
- Price at launch: $199

Sega Dreamcast - At 128-bits, with a built-in modem for online games, and a 200-MHz processor, the Sega Dreamcast was a console far ahead of its time. Unfortunately, this didn't translate into sales. Sega would only sell 8 million units worldwide before production on the Dreamcast was stopped in 2001. This would be Sega's last attempt at a console, deciding instead shift focus into being a third-party developer.

- Manufacturer: Sega Enterprises
- Released: November, 1998
- Price at launch: $199

PlayStation 2 - Hoping to follow up on the success of the original PlayStation Sony releases the PlayStation 2. With a 128-bit RISC processor called the "Emotion Engine", a clock speed of 300MHz, DVD movie playback, and backwards compatibility with PlayStation games, it was the most advanced console on the market. Within two days of its release it sold 980,000 units. To date the PlayStation 2 has sold over 150 million units, making it the best selling home video game console in the world.

- Manufacturer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Released: March, 2000
- Price at launch: $299

Xbox - Marking Microsoft's first foray into making hardware, the Xbox had a host of features that could be traced back to Microsoft's PC roots. It had a broadband-ready Ethernet port to make use of its new service "Xbox Live", "an NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) delivering more than three times the graphics performance of other consoles." (Quote from Giantbomb, in the features section at the bottom), and was the first console on the market to include an internal hard drive. It was also host to the console exclusive Halo: Combat Evolved.

- Manufacturer: Microsoft
- Released: November, 2001
- Price at launch: $299

Nintendo Gamecube - Unlike the PS2 and Xbox, the Gamecube had no DVD playback capabilities; in fact its games came recorded on mini DVDs. Despite its size, the Gamecube was more powerful than the PlayStation 2.

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Released: September, 2001
- Price at launch: $199

Microsoft Xbox 360 - Co-Developed with ATI, IBM, and Silicon Integrated Systems, Microsoft's Xbox 360 was the first console in the next generation (7th generation) and with the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU, was far superior to any system seen before. A revamped Xbox Live reported 3 million connected users and 18 million downloads within the first six months. In 2010 Microsoft released a redesigned version of the Xbox 360, the Xbox 360 S was smaller, ran quieter, and was as the "S" stated slimmer.

- Manufacturer: Microsoft
- Released: November, 2005
- Price at launch: $299 - $399

Sony PS3 - When launched in 2005, Sony announced that the PlayStation 3 would be part of a longer (10 year) generation cycle for consoles. To keep it competitive over the long cycle, it had an NVIDIA RSX 'Reality Synthesizer' GPU with 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory, 512 MB of system memory, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and came with a built-in Blu-ray disc drive. Since its release, it has sold over 77 million units.

- Manufacturer: Sony
- Release date: Nov, 2006
- Price at launch: $499 - $599

Nintendo Wii - In 2005, after five years in development, Nintendo released the successor to the GameCube. The concept behind the Wii was to change the way players interacted with their consoles and the games, this was given form through the motion sensitive remote and heavy use over peripherals. While not an inherently powerful system, the Wii's innovative motion controls and core Nintendo games helped the console sell close to 100 million units.

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Release date: Nov, 2006
- Price at launch: $249

Wii U - The first console in the 8th generation of video game home consoles, the Nintendo Wii U was released a full five months before the PlayStation 4 was even announced. The Wii U was released in two versions a "Basic" white, and a "Deluxe" black. With the Wii U, Nintendo introduced the Wii U Gamepad, a controller with a built in 16:9 aspect ratio touchscreen, allowing the player to use either the TV or the touchpad itself as the primary display screen. When using the TV as the primary display, the touchscreen on the Wii U can instead be used to supplement gameplay in a variety of ways.

- Manufacturer: Nintendo
- Release Date: Nov, 2012.
- Price at launch: $300 for Basic, $350 for Deluxe

Playstation 4 (2013) and Xbox One (2013) - Revealed three months apart, these will be Sony's and Microsoft's entries in the 8th generation of video game home consoles. Each has a host of new features while bringing back fan favorite features from previous generations. The consoles themselves focus on power and performance with increased RAM and 8-core CPU's based on AMD's new Jaguar architecture. More information on both consoles will be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on June 11th - 13th.


Console Firsts


- game console Magnavox Odyssey
- 1975

- console to offer online gaming
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System with the Satellaview
- 1995

- home console to sell more then 100 million copies
- PlayStation 2
- 2000

- console to sell more then 1 million copies in the United States in one year
- Wii
- 2007

- console to sell more then 50 million copies
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- 1985

- Source

Best Selling

- 1. Sony Playstation 2 155 Million Units
- 2. Sony Playstation 102.49 Million Units
- 3. Nintendo Wii 99.84 Million Units
- 4. Microsoft Xbox 360 77.2 Million Units
- 5. Sony Playstation 3 77 Million Units
- 6. Nintendo NES 61.91 Million Units
- 7. Nintendo SNES 49.1 Million Units
- 8. Sega Genesis 40 Million Units
- 9. Nintendo 64 32.93 Million Units
- 10. Atari 2600 20 Million Units

- Playstation/PS2/PS3 -
- NES/SNES/N64/Wii -
- Xbox 360 -
- Sega Genesis -
- Atari 2600 -