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A Brief History of Game Console Warfare 53

conq writes "BusinessWeek has a gallery on the history of console wars. Starting with the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, all the way to the 2006 Wii. The details on the Magnavox Odyssey: 'This is where it all began. Game guru Ralph Baer's invention for Magnavox brought video gaming out of the arcades and into the living room. As the first home video game console, the Odyssey had no audio output and could only display black and white images. But the system came with translucent TV screen overlays to simulate full-color graphics in games like tennis and hockey. The Odyssey's sales were less than impressive: Magnavox had sold about 350,000 units by 1975.'"
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A Brief History of Game Console Warfare

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  • Usually, a discussion of "warfare" would include some actual, oh I dunno, warfare? Instead, all we get is a bunch of pictures of the winners and the hanger-ons of gaming history. (Starting with the requisite reference to the Magnavox Odyssey.) The whole article feels like it was put together to create yet another story about the new game consoles coming out. To flesh it out, they took a few pictures and ripped a little data from Wikipedia.

    I mean, how can you write an article *supposedly* about video game warfare, but so completely miss the Video Game Crash of '83/84?!? You're far better off checking out Wikipedia's article [] on the same thing.

    That being said, someone behind the scenes seemed to know what they were doing. the Tron Deadly Discs cartridge was a hilarious backslap at both Atari and this article.

    A list of systems oddly missing:
    • Channel F (FIRST cartridge based system)
    • Intellivision
    • Odyssey^2
    • Colecovision
    • Atari 5200
    • Atari 7800
    • TurboGrafx 16
    • Atari Jaguar
    • 3DO

    All of those were supremely important to the history of video game "warfare". Yet not a one in sight. How odd.
    • I agree that there seemed to be some major missed spots. I think in your example, you could add the Vectrex and the Nintendo goggle thing. (Can't remember the name). I am really surprised they left the Jaguar out of the article, as well.
      • the Nintendo goggle thing

        The VirtualBoy.

        I left out a bunch of consoles that simply weren't relevant in the market. Otherwise I would have droned on and on about the Bally Astrocade, the Emerson Arcadia, the Neo-Geo, the SG-1000 (Mark I, II, & III), the APF Imagination Machine, the Wonderswan, the Apple Pippin, the...

        Um... I'm droning on, aren't I?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          the SG-1000
          Well, duh, everybody knows that SG teams with numbers greater than 1 only appear to further the plot! :P
          • by Khopesh ( 112447 )
            everybody knows that SG teams with numbers greater than 1 only appear to further the plot!
            So then A 1?
            • by Khopesh ( 112447 )
              everybody knows that SG teams with numbers greater than 1 only appear to further the plot!
              So then A 1?
              That is to say, A <= 1, since /. not only forgot my AC but also took away my &le;
      • Don't forget the Atari Lynx. It had great hardware, some really awesome games (Blue Lightning to name one), but... people associated atari with the 2600... I had many people say "Why would you get one of those?" and then went on to compare it to a 2600...
        • by iocat ( 572367 )
          Don't forget Gates of Zendicon, Chips Challenge, Electrocop, Todds Adventures in Slime World, Klax, Warbirds (awesome 8 player bi-plane game)... The list goes on! The Lynx was a sweet machine. I still play mine regularly (ok, not since PSP and DS came out).
        • by werewolf1031 ( 869837 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:45AM (#16513059)
          Anyone who compares the Lynx to the 2600 is sadly uninformed. One of the many ways in which the Lynx was far superior was that it was the first hand-held console to sport hardware-supported 3D graphics, albeit somewhat crudely (filled polygons, no textures), as well as a massive amount of hardware-supported sprite manipulation including scaling, distortion, etc. which were combined with the hardware-rendered polygons for great effect. In fact, it was the first "home" video game system to support hardware-based 3D graphics, period -- even predating the original Playstation by five years, which debuted in '94 in Japan ('95 in US, Europe) . It was also the first hand-held system to have color LCD (sorry, Gameboy). It even had a math coprocessor, something unheardof for a consumer gaming console in '89, let alone in a hand-held unit.

          I could go on, thus revealing the nostalgic fanboy that I am -- eh, too late -- but suffice it to say that the Lynx was as far above the 2600 as the XBox is above the Super NES. Yeah, that's right, I said it! Let the flame wars begin! :)
    • They also fail to mention the sega CD and 32X that would allow people to understand the general reaction to the saturn. I love mine but it got the developer support it did for a good reason. There is also no neo-geo or 3d0 which would have served as an interesting take off point for the ps3.
    • by ZakuSage ( 874456 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:57PM (#16510545)
      Perhaps the better article to check would be Console Wars []?
      • According to that Wikipedia article, the real winner in the next generation console wars is IBM who has had a hand in developing the processors for both XBox360, PS3, and Wii.
    • The MSX was also missing. Definitely a milestone, even if it did flop.

      As is the NeoGeo/NGCD/Pocket Color.

  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:43PM (#16508847) Homepage
    [Nostalgic "I remember when" comment]

    [Criticism of modern gaming and gamers]

    [Self-deprecating witticism]

    [Trite conclusion]
  • does that count? Mind you, getting the tape drive to load the program did take a while, and reading the one-line LED output was interesting, but it was a game console ...
  • *shakes head* (Score:2, Informative)

    by FrontalLobe ( 897758 )
    "Microsoft's Xbox marked the software company's debut in producing hardware of any kind"

    That was 2001 they were talking about... I remember having microsoft controllers for my PC prior to xbox. I distinctly remember having them in my apartment which was before November '01... Wait... did I just admit to having microsoft hardware on /.? *ducks and hides*
    • by budcub ( 92165 )
      I seem to recall using a Microsoft Mouse in 1993. You know, the "Dove Bar" shaped one? ;)
      • by topham ( 32406 )

        My family bought a computer through a purchasing deal at his work, w had an IBM XT Clone with a Microsoft mouse (And Windows 2.0) in 1988.

        Still have the mouse somewhere I expect.
        • by SirSlud ( 67381 )
          All of those were not created by MS owned factories, but rather rebranded hardware. If I put a sticker with my name on your mouse, will you call it mine?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            While some of the more "mundane" hardware may have been rebranded, the Microsoft Sidewinder was most definitely not rebranded hardware, and it came out about six years before the XBox. The Sidewinder flight stick was manufactured exclusively for Microsoft. Sure, it didn't hold up too well in comparison to Logitech's legendary Wingman series of flight sticks from the 90's, nevermind the high-end gear from Thrustmaster, but it hardly counts as "rebranded"... unless you also count the various components manufa
    • Re:*shakes head* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:35PM (#16510283) Homepage
      Microsoft began making designing, producing, and selling mice in 1983 (playing catch-up to Apple, I believe, and designing Word to take advantage of the mouse.) Many years before Sony was even in the video game business, and two years before Nintendo shipped the first Famicom/NES (they has already been making arcade games for 8 years.)

      I recall Microsoft having designed some specialized cards for early PCs, too, but I don't recall their name.
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 )
      That wasn't MS hardware. That was somebody's hardware with MS's marketing and sticker behind it.
    • I had a Microsoft Jr. Booster memory sidecar and bus mouse (packaged with Flight Simulator v1 or 2) for my IBM PCjr back in the 80s. Back when hardware was hardware and mice had metal balls!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In the late 80s I had pleasure to work for Mattel in the electronic branch, based near Kansas City. We were at the leading edge, creating games such as M.U.L.E., Turbo, the Zelda clone Guinea Sisters, and of course Pac-Man.

    Steve Wozniak used to work for Intellivision briefly at the beginning of the company and he created the games Enduro, Street Fighter and Double Dribble.

    I now find that there are lot of people buying those retro consoles on eBay.

    Which is nice.
  • by Rico_Suave ( 147634 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:43PM (#16509605)
    "The NES had ... an 8-bit digital brain for enhanced power..."

    Er, so did the Atari 2600 - []
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      Yes but the Atari 2600 is not powerful enough to be the digital brain of Arnold Schwarzenegger!
  • And unfortunately, the GameCube's launch lacked something all previous Nintendo console launches had: a Mario title. The results weren't promising, as the GameCube had to undergo several price cuts before it would sell well.
    Somehow, I don't think the GameCube's mistake at launch was not providing a Mario title...
    • I fail to see where Nintendo made a mistake with the Gamecube. They made tons of money off of it from day one, while the competitors never made a profit off of their offerings.
      • Your point is taken about Gamecube's success, though I'd imagine Sony also made quite a bundle off the PS2...
        • No...I hate to break it to you, but Sony has not made one cent overall off of the PS2. Certain parts of the PS2 were profitable, but once you add up all of Sonys losses and profits with the PS2 it still comes out in the negative.
          • Somehow that doesn't pass the smell test. Are you counting profits from software licensing fees? I'd be interested to see a link that discusses this issue.

            If Sony actually lost money on the PS2, why would they bother making a PS3? I mean, PS2 sold more than any console in HISTORY, and it's not done yet. If Sony couldn't at least eke out a profit on it, what possible motivation would there be to release yet ANOTHER console, in what will surely be an even more competitive 2006-2012 gaming environment? Sony is
            • Yes, I'm counting all of the extraneous areas the PS2 could make money from. Give my previous comment an actual read. Sony and Microsoft both are in a situation where both of them have spent way, too, damn, much on their plunges into the console market to just pull out after one go at not making a profit. The consoles are being used as a tool purely to try and lockout anyone else from getting a mediacenter system into the jo-consumer's living room. Microsoft is in it for the 360 and maybe one more even if t
      • If profit was the *only* criteria, perhaps (not to mention that most of it is due to their handheld line, not the gamecube). But going from an NES-sized marketshare to a GC-sized one has got to be a huge blow, if only for morale's-sake.
  • I don't know what it was called, but it was a rectangular orange box, with two controllers with just a wheel knob on each. There were four pong variants, which basically just changed whether it was single/two player, and if there were walls along the top of the screen or not. There were a few switches on the console that would change the game, the size of the paddles and the speed of the ball. Does anyone here remember this, and perhaps know what it was called?
    • Pong was my first, also. It was a yellowish molded plastic unit with the usual controllers. I think it was made by Atari or possibly Sears. This would have been in the mid-late 1970s. Wikipedia [] has some good links to Pong sites.
    • I think it was a grandstand unit, sounds liek the first console I had, except i had a slightly later version with a light gun, the light gun game was a white square bouncing around the screen against a black background. You could cheat by turning up the TV's brightness and score a hit anywhere on the screen.
  • by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:12PM (#16510727)
    I recommend that anyone who finds this article interesting should read Steven L. Kent's excellent The Ultimate History of Video Games [] (formerly known as The First Quarter). It's a detailed and nuanced history of the video game industry, starting with the pinball industry's birth in the late 1800s, all the way to the death of the Dreamcast. It's incredibly engrossing, and will leave you with a much clearer picture of how far the industry has come.
  • Not only does this article not mention systems such as Intellivision, but they even show an Intellivision cartridge in the Atari 2600's slot!!

    What a poor article. Really.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard