1980s Vintage Video Game Consoles

250 07/02/2022

Vintage Video Game Consoles of The 1980s

Commodore 64 ScreenshotsCommodore 64Released January 1982In January 1981, MOS Technology, Inc., Commodore's integrated circuit design subsidiary, initiated a project to design the graphic and audio chips for a next generation video game console. Design work for the chips, named MOS Technology VIC-II (graphics) and MOS Technology SID (audio), was completed in November 1981.A game console project was then initiated by Commodore that would use the new chips�called the Ultimax or alternatively the Commodore MAX Machine, engineered by Yash Terakura from Commodore Japan. This project was eventually cancelled after just a few machines were manufactured for the Japanese market.The C64 made an impressive debut at the January 1982 Winter Consumer Electronics Show, as recalled by Production Engineer David A. Ziembicki: "All we saw at our booth were Atari people with their mouths dropping open, saying, How can you do that for $595?" The answer, as it turned out, was vertical integration; thanks to Commodore's ownership of MOS Technology's semiconductor fabrication facilities, each C64 had an estimated production cost of only $135.View All Commodore Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentEmerson Arcadia 2001 ScreenshotsEmerson Arcadia 2001Released March 1982In 1982, the computer electronics company, Emerson, jumped into the gaming world. They released the Arcadia 2001, a small cartridge-based system.The Arcadia 2001 controllers are similar in design to the Intellivison or Colecovision, with a numeric keypad, a joystick, and two side buttons.Emerson Arcadia 2001 was supposed to be the Atari 2600 killer. A great console with great games. Unfortunately they fell prey to complete lack of third party development, and the lack of Arcade game titles. Similar to other consoles before it, they were forced to release home versions of arcade games.The system didn't grasp much attention, and soon found it's way to the bargain bin at the cost of $99. The release of the Colecovision months later sealed the Arcadia's fate. The Emerson Arcadia 2001 died after only a year and a half with 35 game releases. Most never recall it existed.View All Emerson Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentAtari 2600 (Vader) ScreenshotsAtari 2600 (Vader)Released August 1982In 1982, a new version of the Atari 2600 console was released without woodgrain. They were nicknamed "Darth Vader" consoles due to their all-black appearance. These were also the first consoles to be officially called "Atari 2600", as the Atari 5200 was released the same year.Also in 1982, Atari released E.T., a licensed game of the incredibly popular Spielberg film. The game cost around $125 million to develop, largely due to the licensing costs of the game. The game designer was Howard Scott Warshaw, who had received nothing but praise and adulation for his game Raiders of the Lost Ark.View All Atari Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentColeco Vision ScreenshotsColeco VisionReleased August 1982The Colecovision is Coleco's third generation video game console, released in August 1982. It offered arcade-like graphics and controllers, and an initial catalog of 12 titles, with 10 more promised titles on the way. All told, approximately 170 titles were released on plug-in cartridges during its lifetime. The controller was a flat joystick, two side buttons, and a number-pad, which allowed the user to put inserts for customized buttons. The majority of titles in its catalog were conversions from coin-operated arcade games. The ColecoVision introduced two new concepts to the home video game industry - the ability to expand the hardware system, and the ability to play other video game system games.By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold 500,000 units, mainly on the strength of its bundled games. While Atari's fortune had risen on the popularity of Space Invaders, Colecovision was the first console to feature the hit Donkey Kong, by Nintendo. The Colecovision's main competitor in the next-generation console space was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200.View All Coleco Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentColeco Expansion Module #1 ScreenshotsColeco Expansion Module #1Released October 1982From its introduction, Coleco had touted a hardware add-on called the Expansion Module #1 which made the ColecoVision compatible with the industry-leading Atari 2600. Functionally, this gave the ColecoVision the largest software library of any console of its day. The expansion module prompted legal action from Atari, but Atari was unable to stop sales of the module because the 2600 could be reproduced with standard parts. Coleco was also able to design and market the Gemini game system which was an exact clone of the 2600, but with combined joystick/paddle controllers.View All Coleco Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentEntex Adventure Vision ScreenshotsEntex Adventure VisionReleased October 1982The Adventure Vision is a self-contained cartridge-based video game console released by Entex Industries in 1982. Control is through a single multi-position joystick and two sets of four buttons, one on each side of the joystick, for ease of play by both left and right handed players.One particular feature of the Adventure Vision is its "monitor." Rather than using an LCD screen or an external television set like other systems of the time, the Adventure Vision uses a single vertical line of 40 red LEDs combined with a spinning mirror inside the casing. This allows for a screen resolution of 150 x 40 pixels. Another product using this technique was produced by Nintendo in the mid 1990s � the Virtual Boy � another product which, while technically ahead of its time like the Adventure Vision, was doomed to failure in the open market.Drawbacks to the Adventure Vision are its monochrome (red) screen as well as the mirror motor, which draws a great deal of power from the batteries. The latter problem can be solved easily by the use of the built-in AC adapter port.Many casual fans dismiss the Adventure Vision as a failed handheld console. In fact, it was a tabletop console that was much too large and fragile to be used effectively for handheld purposes.View All Entex Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentMilton Bradley Vectrex Arcade System ScreenshotsMilton Bradley Vectrex Arcade SystemReleased November 01, 1982 for $199.00The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console developed by General Consumer Electric (GCE) and later bought by Milton Bradley Company. The Vectrex is unique in that it utilized vector graphics drawn on a monitor that was integrated in the console; no other console before or after the Vectrex had a comparable configuration, and no other non-portable game console had a monitor of its own (integrated). It was released in November 1982 at a retail price of $199. As the video game market declined and then crashed, the Vectrex exited the market in early 1984.Unlike other video game consoles which connected to TVs to display raster graphics, the Vectrex included its own monitor which displayed vector graphics. The monochrome Vectrex used overlays to give the illusion of color, and also to reduce the severity of flickering caused by the vector monitor. At the time many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and GCE was looking to set themselves apart from the pack by selling high-quality versions of games like Space Wars and Armor Attack. The system even contained a built in game, the Asteroids-like Minestorm.View All Milton Bradley Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentAtari 5200 ScreenshotsAtari 5200Released November 1982The Atari 5200 is a video game console introduced in 1982 by Atari. It was created to compete with the Mattel Intellivision, but it also competed with the Colecovision shortly after the 5200's release. In some ways, it was both technologically superior and more cost efficient than any console available at that time.The Atari 5200 was in essence an Atari 400 computer without a keyboard. This made for a powerful, proven design which Atari could quickly bring to market. The system featured many innovations like the first automatic TV switch box, allowing it to automatically switch from regular TV viewing to the game system signal when the system was activated.The initial release of the system featured four controller ports, where all other systems of the day had only two ports. The system also featured a revolutionary new controller with an analog joystick, numeric keypad, two fire buttons on both sides of the controller and game function keys for Start, Pause, and Reset.View All Atari Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentColeco Gemini ScreenshotsColeco GeminiReleased November 1982In 1982, Coleco released Expansion Module #1 for its Colecovision video game system using off-the-shelf components. Atari sued Coleco for patent infringement, however a court ruled that since Coleco used off-the-shelf components and not the same components found inside an Atari 2600, the Expansion Module #1 did not infringe on Atari's patents for the 2600. With this ruling, Coleco decided to make a stand-alone Atari 2600 clone and named it the Gemini.The main difference between the Coleco Gemini and the Atari 2600 is the controller design. The Coleco Gemini controllers featured an 8-way joystick and a 270-degree paddle on the same controller (the joystick was at the top of the controller, and the paddle was at the bottom of the controller). Unfortunately, if one wanted to play the Atari 2600 game Warlords in 4 player mode, 2 sets of Atari-made paddles were required, and one set of Atari-made paddles was required for 2 player paddle games.View All Coleco Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentMattel Intellivision II ScreenshotsMattel Intellivision IIReleased December 01, 1982 for $99.99Shortly after the Intellivision I released nationwide in the United States, Mattel followed up with the new updated Intellivision II unit in 1982. The product retailed for $99.99 USD and showed a few marked improvements. In order to cut costs Mattel featured 16 position removable joysticks on their 'new' system. A LED light was implemented to show owners when the system was on or off, since this was a difficulty with the Intellivision I unit. The power button functioned also as a reset switch and must be held for 5 seconds before the power will shut off, otherwise just pressing it will reset the system.If the game was not in play the screen would go dark after five minutes in order to prevent burn in. To further reduce burn in, the Intellivision II Owner's Manual states that you should play the system using low contrast levels on your TV anyhow. To set the game on pause, you must simultaneously press 1 + 9 on the control pad. The system caused problems when running certain Coleco brand games such as Donkey Kong, Mouse Trap, and Carnival.View All Mattel Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentMattel Aquarius ScreenshotsMattel AquariusReleased June 01, 1983 for $160.00Looking to compete in the standalone computer market, Mattel Electronics turned to Radofin, the Hong Kong based manufacturer of their Intellivision consoles. Radofin had designed two computer systems. Internally they were known as "Checkers", and the more sophisticated "Chess". Mattel contracted for these to become the Aquarius and Aquarius II, respectively. Aquarius was announced in 1982 and finally released in June 1983, at a price of $160. Production ceased four months later because of poor sales. Mattel paid Radofin to take back the marketing rights, and four other companies�CEZAR Industries, CRIMAC Inc., New Era Incentives, Inc., and Bentley Industries�also marketed the unit and accessories for it. Bentley Industries (of Los Angeles) and New Era Incentives, Inc. (of St. Paul) are still in business, though they no longer have any affiliation with the Aquarius product line.The Aquarius often came bundled with the Mini-Expander peripheral, which added gamepads, an additional cartridge port for memory expansion, and the GI AY-3-8914 sound chip, which was the same one used on the Intellivision console. Other common peripherals were the Data recorder, 40 column thermal printer, 4K and 16K ram carts. Less common first party peripherals include a 300 baud cartridge modem, 32k RAM cart, 4 color plotter, and Quick Disk drive.View All Mattel Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentRDI Halcyon ScreenshotsRDI HalcyonReleased January 01, 1985 for $2,500.00The Halcyon was a home video game console released in January of 1985 by RDI Video Systems. The initial retail price for the system was $2500, and it featured a laserdisc player and attached computer, each the size of an early-model VCR. Only two games were released for the system before RDI went bankrupt: Thayer's Quest and Raiders vs. Chargers, although trailers for several others were created. RDI Video Systems claimed that the system would be entirely voice-activated, and would have an artificial intelligence on par with HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.View All RDI Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentNintendo NES ScreenshotsNintendo NESReleased October 1985Following 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.View All Nintendo Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentMattel INTV System III ScreenshotsMattel INTV System IIIReleased October 01, 1985 for $59.95In March 1984, the rights to the Intellivision system were sold for $16.5 million to an investment group headed by the senior vice-president of Mattel Electronics, Terrence Valeski. In November 1984, the company was renamed INTV.In October 1985, the INTV System III (also known as the Super Pro System) was introduced for only $59.95. It is another repackaging of the Intellivision master component, this time in a black case. INTV also announced the re- release of all of the original Intellivision titles at between $9.95 and $19.95 each.View All Mattel Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentAtari 7800 ScreenshotsAtari 7800Released January 1986The Atari 7800 was Atari's chance at redemption in the video game market. Atari Inc. spent a good part of 1983 interviewing thousands of people on what they wanted and didn't want in a video game console. Atari Inc. through Warner Communications, then worked with General Computer Corporation who earlier had lost a lawsuit with Atari regarding a "Speed-up" board for Atari's Missile Command.The all new graphics chip called MARIA (Also the code name of the 7800 Project) with almost 100 independent sprites, better color palette on screen, and other powerful features would not only allow game designers the ability to code new and exciting games, but the chip also allowed an original Atari TIA processor to co-exist side by side with MARIA so that the new console could also play all of the original Atari 2600 games as well.The Atari 7800 was designed to be flexible and expandable and even had an expansion port for future peripherals to tap into the system bus and video circuitry.View All Atari Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentAtari 2600 Junior ScreenshotsAtari 2600 JuniorReleased March 01, 1986 for $49.99In 1986 the Atari 2600 was re-released as the 2600 Junior. They retailed for $49.99 and came with a controller, RF switch and power cord but were absent of a pack in cartridge. They were made to match the 5200 and 7800 of the same time and some of the Juniors actually sported a JR stamp on them.The switches are the same as the CX 2600 A except that they are now sliding buttons rather than switches. The switches on the top of the unit were On/Off, Black and White/Color, Game Select, and Rest. Game Difficulty could be switched on the back. The system was much smaller and could conserve space much better than it's predecessor. The RF lead was not attached to this system.Competition in the video game industry was at an all time high, the Atari 2600 Junior would be a simple low cost Atari 2600 packaged into a small "lunch-box" carton with appeal to younger gamers.View All Atari Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentSega Master System (SMS) ScreenshotsSega Master System (SMS)Released October 1986After producing many games for early home video game consoles, Sega decided to develop a console system of its own. The SG-1000 and Mark III were available in Japan in the mid-1980s, but when Sega witnessed the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company knew it wanted a share of the American console market. So, Sega redesigned the Mark III, renamed it the Sega Master System (SMS for short), and released it in 1986, not long after the NES first came out.Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. The original SMS could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than carts but had less code. The SMS also had cooler accessories (like 3D glasses), but this didn't do much good when there weren't very many exciting games.The Master System technology lived on in Sega's Game Gear, which was basically a portable SMS with some enhancements.View All Sega Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentWorlds of Wonder Action Max ScreenshotsWorlds of Wonder Action MaxReleased June 10, 1987 for $99.00The Action Max is one of the few video game consoles that are not able to display graphics on its own, a VCR is required for game play. The system works by attaching directly to a VCR, which in turn transmits the video signal to your television. Sound is delivered through an internal speaker in the Action Max system itself. The included Light Sensor must be plugged into the console, then stuck to the television screen via a suction cup. All games are the same, whether it is shooting a ghost or a submarine, these are simple point and shoot games. There is no change or reaction to anything being displayed to you when you score a hit. Only a small noise is emitted from the console and the score counter increases.So what were the system's failings? Due to the linear nature of the games, targets appeared in the same places every single time, making memorization of "enemy" locations a real issue. While the system had three game variations and play for alternating gamers, it was nothing more than a fancy target game, no matter which videotape was utilized. Interestingly, at the end of each videotape "game", there were video previews of other releases, which also had targets and could be shot at and scored, acting like a (unintentional?) demo!View All Worlds of Wonder Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentAtari XE Game System ScreenshotsAtari XE Game SystemReleased October 01, 1987 for $199.00It was the 1980's, and the Atari 7800 release fails to attract attention in a market dominated by the Nintendo N.E.S. So the folks at Atari came to a decision to market another system. Oddly enough it was a step back in time.Atari introduced the XE Game System in 1987. The XEGS was merely a console remake of their 8-bit Atari 65XE computer. For $199 you got the console, a standard joystick, a light gun, and a pack in game called Bug Hunt (light gun game).The marketing strategy was to take advantage of the back stock of Atari computer cartridges (10 years worth). Some Atari 5200 games were also remade since the architecture was quite similar.Even though it looks like a console, the XEGS is a true 8-bit Atari computer system. It offered the convenience of a detachable keyboard, compatibility with any standard Atari 8-bit computer peripherals, while offering 64K RAM. When no cartridge was inserted it would also start up with a built-in version of Missile Command.Of course the XEGS could not compete with the likes of newer systems and Atari pulled it from production after a short time.View All Atari Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentSega Genesis ScreenshotsSega GenesisReleased August 1989It 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.View All Sega Video Game ConsolesPost a CommentNEC TurboGrafx 16 ScreenshotsNEC TurboGrafx 16Released August 1989In Japan, shortly after the introduction of Nintendo's Famicom (Japan's version of the NES), the electronics giant NEC entered into the video game market with the introduction of their "next generation" system, known as the PC Engine (PCE). The PCE boasted a 16-bit graphics chip capable of displaying up to 256 colors on screen at once, at a number of resolutions. Although its CPU wasn't much more powerful that of the NES, its spectacular graphics chip and six-channel sound bettered the Famicom in every way. It utilized a sleek new card format (PCE games are either HuCards or Turbochips) to hold its software, rather than bulky cartridges. It was also the first console to boast a CD-ROM drive, for full orchestral soundtracks and even (gasp!) full motion video. The PC Engine was immensely popular in Japan, outselling the Famicom by a significant margin.In 1989, two years after its Japanese introduction, NEC announced plans to bring the PC Engine overseas, to the booming video game market of the U.S. With a huge library of Japanese software, it seemed to many as though the system couldn't possibly fail.View All NEC Video Game ConsolesPost a Comment ||||| Top Brands: |||||||

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