Video game consoles have been a staple in gaming for over four decades. From the first home console to the latest generation of hybrid consoles, the gaming industry has seen an immense amount of growth and evolution. Here’s a look at how it all began:
Video Game Console Origins
Video Game Console Origins
- In 1966, Ralph H. Baer invented the concept of playing simple, spot-based games on a television screen.
- In 1972, Baer’s invention became the Magnavox Odyssey, which was the first video game console.
- Atari, Inc. developed the first successful arcade game, Pong, and later released a home version in 1975.
- Programmable consoles that used swappable ROM cartridges were introduced with the Fairchild Channel F in 1976 and popularized with the Atari 2600 released in 1977.
- Handheld consoles emerged from technology improvements in handheld electronic games that shifted from mechanical to electronic/digital logic, with the concept fully realized by the Game Boy in 1989.
- A video game console is an electronic device that outputs a video signal or image to display a video game that can be played with a game controller.
- The gaming console is designed for affordability and accessibility to the general public in mind but lacking in raw computing power and customization.
- Simplifying game launch, game cartridges or other simplified methods of distribution are used.
- Modern consoles can serve as replacements for media players with capabilities to play films and music from optical media or streaming media services.
- Early consoles were capable of playing only a limited number of games built into the hardware.
- Handheld consoles emerged from technology improvements in handheld electronic games.
- Global changes in technology allowed for increased computational power at lower costs and size, the introduction of 3D graphics and hardware-based graphic processors for real-time rendering, and digital communications such as the Internet, wireless networking, and Bluetooth.
- Consoles are sold on a 5-7 year cycle called a generation.
- The industry has developed a razor and blades model, where manufacturers sell consoles at low prices while primarily making a profit from licensing fees for each game sold.
- Ralph H. Baer’s invention of playing simple, spot-based games on a television screen in 1966 later became the basis of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, which was the first video game console.
- While numerous manufacturers have come and gone in the history of the console market, there have always been two or three dominant leaders in the market, with the current market led by Sony (with their PlayStation brand), Microsoft (with their Xbox brand), and Nintendo (currently producing the Switch console and its lightweight derivative).