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Classic Games (Games) Media Television

A History of Game Consoles, As Seen on TV 61 61

PC World is running a great retrospective on videogame consoles, looking all the way back to Atari's pong. The best part is, they're doing it via television ads for the systems. The article features highly entertaining blipverts for Pong, the Fairchild, the VCS, the 2600, the Intellivision, the Odyssey, Vectrex, Colecovision, the Atari 5200, and many, many more. From the article: "Gamers were tiring of PONG consoles, and Fairchild Instrument and Camera's Channel F console offered a fresh new alternative. It featured programmable 'videocarts' containing ROM chips and code, as opposed to the dedicated circuits that the Magnavox Odyssey's plug-in cards used. The cartridge concept emerged as an industry standard, and is still used in handheld gaming devices today."
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A History of Game Consoles, As Seen on TV

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  • For me, it all began with the Atari 2600.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      I got a Fairchild system as my first video game. Was quite a lot of fun...even learned to play blackjack on it.

      I had that thing up until about 5-7 years ago..and tossed it I think while trying to unload junk that was getting to be too much with frequent moves ever couple years.

      Upon reflection...I wish I'd have kept it and the cartriges...could have at least given it a good new home on eBay or something.

      That system was really something in its day when my other friends only had black and white pong or Odes

      • by Dunbal (464142)
        I got a Fairchild system as my first video game.

        I had a Fairchild too. That thing rocked - my friends were so damned jealous hehe. But that's ok, I'd let them play once in a while. I remember I had blackjack, and some airplane game that had a 2 player mode - Red Baron or something. Breakout of course, and maybe a couple others. Ahhh this has brought back memories. Then, idiot that I am, I forgot to unplug it one week while I was away in boarding school, and when I came back something h
        • by krakelohm (830589)

          I forgot to unplug it one week while I was away in boarding school, and when I came back something had melted - the transformer probably
          Sure your not talkin about an Xbox 360? HA HA Merry Christmas everyone. :)
      • I had a Fairchild- I think my dad must have been pretty interested in it. We spent a lot of time at Sears looking at Pong, but the Fairchild was SO much cooler. And in color!

        I had some sort of 'drawing' game that I would use to draw out a race-track, then see how fast I could move my cursor through it without erasing any blocks. I spent hours on that, breakout, and baseball.

        I'm just glad to see that some people realize that video game consoles did not start with the Atari 2600, or even worse, the NES.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      For me, it all began with my parents fucking.
    • by bytecolor (785857)
      Anyone else tired of this style of webpage?
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      ad ad _CONTENT ad ad
      ad ad __NEXT__ ad ad
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      ad ad ad ad ad ad ad
      The gentleman that came up with this style must
      have cut his teeth on a C64.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:47PM (#17342262)
    PreacherTom [google.com] is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine. Look at the URL in this recent Slashdot story [slashdot.org] and notice the campaign_id string. Now look at his user page [slashdot.org]. Scroll down to the submissions section. Notice how almost every one is a link to a BusinessWeek.com article containing the campaign_id string. Now look at the search results [google.com] for "campaign_id preachertom". He's been pulling this shit on slashdot, digg, Fark, MetaFilter, and who knows where else. Check out this MetaTalk thread [metafilter.com] for the initial discovery.

    Spread the word, perhaps?
    • by asuffield (111848)
      Astroturfing is when a corporation pretends to be a grassroots campaign. That doesn't appear to be the case here - this guy is just a regular marketdroid, no pretending to be anything. Still a slimeball, but a different breed of slimeball.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:03PM (#17342446) Homepage Journal
    Just about every other "history" article as of late has jumped from the 2600 to the NES, ignoring the rich history in between. PC World deserves a pat on the back for changing this. That being said...

    For a while, superior graphics and sound made Mattel's $300 Intellivision (and a succession of rebadged versions) the major competitor to the Atari VCS. Mattel's product was the first console to use a 16-bit microprocessor, but poor controllers and--more importantly--a lack of third-party games limited its success.

    The Intellivision wasn't lacking third party titles. Everyone from Activision, to IMagic, to Atari (!) released games for the system. You can see a full list of games over on IntellivisionLives [intellivisionlives.com].

    While Intellivision focused more on thinking games rather than arcade action*, it was pretty much successful right up until the Video Game Crash of '83/84. At that point, Mattel Electronics died, but the Intellivision lived on as part of the newly formed INTV Corp. Some of the best games were produced under INTV (Diner, Thin Ice, Thunder Castle, Hover Force, etc.), and they didn't close their doors until 1991. (IIRC)

    And many [Colecovision] units came bundled with a near-arcade-quality port of Nintendo's Donkey Kong.

    Except for the fact that Donkey Kong was on the wrong side of the screen. :-/

    Suprisingly, not that many players noticed this little gaff.

    Previewed at the 1983 Consumer Electronic Show (CES), the Odyssey 3 Command Center held out the promise of an improved keyboard, a built-in joystick holder, a voice synthesizer, and a 300-baud modem.

    Not entirely true. It was released in Europe as the Phillips Videopac+. It took collectors a while to realize that the Videopac+ (O^3) was different than the Videopac (O^2), and that the new console had actually been released. Albeit in small quantities. Of course, the extra hardware enhancements the article talks about (like the modem) were not in the European release.

    * Don't get me wrong. The Intellivision had some great action games. Dreadnaught Factor is one of my favorites, as is Space Spartans.
    • I was young enough to have played an original 2600, but not old enough to remember much of that time. I actually really enjoy the emulation scene as a way to revisit these systems that I missed, and preserve software that would otherwise be completely forgotten.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The whole "video game" crash still seems like revisionist history to me. The way I remember it was that everyone was upgrading from the Atari 2600 video game systems to the C-64 video game systems. There was no time from my first pong system that the choices of games decreased.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *

        The whole "video game" crash still seems like revisionist history to me.

        There was nothing revisionist about it. It just wasn't obvious to consumers.

        From a 50,000 foot level, what happened is that game consoles had been flooding the market with new hardware and titles at an unsustainable rate. At the same time, console makers had been trying to turn their consoles into full computers in an attempt to make their systems more appealing. Commodore attempted to improve the computer market by advertising that com

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Not crash. Shift. Just because one or two system makers took over the market doesn't mean that there is a crash. The all reports of the crash seem to be clear that the C64 took over the video game market. Remember the C64 and TI were a consoles. They had cartidge ports. If you are going to classify anything with a keyboard as a 'computer' instead of a console, then the Atari 2600 was a computer. Not only did it have BASIC for the 2600, but it even said it was a computer right on the box. If you are
          • by Chyeld (713439)
            It was a crash.

            The majority of the companies that were in the video game industry at the time were completely devastated. The ones that didn't already have huge bank rolls or weren't backed by other revenue (Mattel) went under in the blink of an eye.

            The US lost most of it's dominance of the industry to Japan, and for a time, until the NES came to America, retailers refused to sell consoles due to the bath they had to take in losses when the crash occurred.

            Yes, there were OTHER industries out there that fill
        • by eharvill (991859)

          At the same time, console makers had been trying to turn their consoles into full computers in an attempt to make their systems more appealing.
          Sounds about like what console makers are trying to do these days...
    • Are you kidding me? Compared to the terrible port Nintendo made for Intellivision the Colecovision version was pure gold. It wasn't arcade perfect, but it was a giant step forward; just like a number of their other arcade conversions (Zaxxon, Cosmic Avenger, etc). Not too shabby for the COnnecticut LEather COmpany. But then came the giant asteroid that was E.T. [wikipedia.org], and all before it was laid waste.

      While Intellivision focused more on thinking games rather than arcade action*, it was pretty much successful r

      • Compared to the terrible port Nintendo made for Intellivision the Colecovision version was pure gold.

        Dude, Coleco made that port. That's why Donkey Kong is on the wrong side [intellivisionlives.com] in that version too. The Mattel guys were actually pretty upset about the quality and wanted to do their own version to show it could be done right. That's probably why IMagic did Beauty and the Beast [intellivisionlives.com].

        Not too shabby for the COnnecticut LEather COmpany.

        Actually, it was a travesty. But players were just happy to have Donkey Kong, so they

        • Actually, it was a travesty. But players were just happy to have Donkey Kong, so they enjoyed it anyway. Sort of like the 2600 Pacman. ;)

          Both games were simple but engrossing enough to transcend low-res graphics, blinkity-blinkitiness and the fact that TVs are wide rather than tall. I never noticed the "wrong side" issue on Donkey Kong -- not that my Colecovision owning friends would ever let me get my hands on its runty little joystick.

          I had every Atari cartridge system through the Jag, and just recent

  • Blipverts arent entertaining! This is just a devious ruse to make all gamers who watch it spontainiously combust. Probably triggers when you get to the add for Zelda on the phillips CD-I.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:23PM (#17342666)
    Punch card Pong was a bit boring but gaming had to start somewhere.
    • I always liked to stack the cards together, so that when you flipped through them you got to watch your entire game as a movie.
  • Proper grammar from the editors please. Thanks.
  • was actually Playstation .00001
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)
      Nope. That was the prototype XBox. You know how long it takes MicroSoft to go from a prototype to a usable version?
  • I like the commercials for the Xbox they had a while back here in the Netherlands. You see a normal street, and then suddenly a midieval army runs down the street. Beautifully filmed. Beuatiful commercials.
  • by g253 (855070) on Friday December 22, 2006 @06:26PM (#17343374) Homepage
    So here are the links :

    pong : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X53eJ8AWQ9Y [youtube.com]
    fairchild : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-763921347 2647728205&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en [google.com]
    vcs :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU3gHAGbi0Q [youtube.com]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_XrIx2eUGc [youtube.com]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lROb1vWNiig [youtube.com]
    Magnavox Odyssey 2 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oG1TlryN88 [youtube.com]
    Mattel Intellivision : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXet1I2TuXE [youtube.com]
    Vectrex : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1KQ4i5oRrM [youtube.com]
    ColecoVision : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GpptJusOjM [youtube.com]
    and Expansion Module for Atari 2600 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6T7755ux2M [youtube.com]
    Atari 5200 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAlmxV8e7tE [youtube.com]
    Odyssey 3 Command Center (never released) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv1a9U-6rJQ [youtube.com]
    Sega Game-1000 Mk II : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iImQcL5Vs-g [youtube.com]
    NES $250 deluxe set : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cssV9F6JhbE [youtube.com]
    NES power glove : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93iDhnBcMGo [youtube.com]
    NES power pad : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzH732OFTqg [youtube.com]
    "NES rap" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuHOCyJWFDE [youtube.com]
    Sega Master System : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLEeoOaze_A [youtube.com]
    Atari 7800 Pro System : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A46SSY9q3n8 [youtube.com]
    Atari 2600 Jr : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_nOWJd4H_A [youtube.com]
    NEC TurboGrafx-16 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmR1xJAho_c [youtube.com]
    Sega Genesis : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUtIWT7CLTw [youtube.com]
    Sega Genesis : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOM01F4Ihcc [youtube.com]
    Sega Genesis : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWZARgoipGw [youtube.com]
    Neo Geo : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ0aEjlTYms [youtube.com]
    SNES : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKPZNHUlSHA [youtube.com]
    SNES : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRjVXIWZfeM [youtube.com]
    Philips CD-I : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ROwwU29xCw [youtube.com]
    TTi TurboDuo : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEvzN5YcR80 [youtube.com]
    Amiga CD32 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMd5lMV4uFI [youtube.com]
    3DO : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTRqsS-ftgQ [youtube.com]
    Jaguar : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQaro-yjBqI [youtube.com]
    Saturn : http://ww [youtube.com]
    • by suffe (72090)
      Careful there cowboy. You might be violating all sorts of laws by direct linking to videos like that. Imagine all the ad revenue that you are stealing from youtube. The nerve of some people.
      • by Taulin (569009)
        I agree. It sucks when youTube looses revenue on products they didn't even make, pay for, or have the right to redistribute.
    • by Tjebbe (36955)
      i love the one for the magnavox odyssey 2
  • Nothing of this sort can be complete without it.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-271399411 6796945354 [google.com]
  • by Xhris (97992)
    Isn't this a dupe from a few months ago??
  • PS3 over priced?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Friday December 22, 2006 @08:43PM (#17344614)
    Fairchild Channel F console cost 170 bucks in 1976.

    In constant dollars.

    It would've cost as much as a high end ps3.

    The Fairchild didn't even support BluRay!
  • I'm trying to remember the name of an Atari game where crap was flying towards you from the top of the screen. Things shaped like honeycomb cereal come to mind.

    Anyone remember it?

  • In 1977 I had a Sears Roebuck Telegames, which was a 2600 with the Sears branding. Bow before me, lesser geeks.

    Before that I had a Unisonic pong/skeet shooting game that had a gun for the shooting.
    • by KatchooNJ (173554)
      Ah yes... the Sears model of the VCS. :-) I actually still own a working one! (You can bow before me too! lol) It also came with a different game... Air Sea Battle! It was better than Combat that came with the standard VCS console. ;-)
  • Since I'm big on respecting the brands these companies develop, I'll point out that "Nintendo Wii" is incorrect. It is simply, "Wii". If you want to throw the maker in there, it should be called, "Wii from Nintendo".

    Damn, well, that fills my Geek Quota for about a month... I'm outta here.
    • by Twisted64 (837490)
      What, like the Megadrive from Sega, and the Playstation from Sony? It may be correct, but at least you avoid confusion - Megadrive sounds like a new storage medium, and we all know what Wii sounds like without the Nintendo.
  • I was considering firing up my 32-bit browser or my Mac to check out the Flash, but then they had to hit me with a DHTML... I mean, an AJAX popup.

    Well, fuck them. It wasn't very interesting anyway.

UNIX enhancements aren't.