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A Brief History of Game Console Warfare

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the long-have-we-fought-and-many-have-died dept.

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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Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16508773)

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 [wikipedia.org] 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.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

Rifter13 (773076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16508929)

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.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509023)

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:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (2, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509447)

the SG-1000
Well, duh, everybody knows that SG teams with numbers greater than 1 only appear to further the plot! :P

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511097)

everybody knows that SG teams with numbers greater than 1 only appear to further the plot!
So then A 1?

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511129)

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;

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509167)

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...

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510543)

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).

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (3, Informative)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#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! :)

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

deathsquirrel (956752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509125)

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.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16510507)

From your post:
I mean, how can you write an article *supposedly* about video game warfare, but so completely miss the Video Game Crash of '83/84?!?


From the article:
In 1983, the video game industry collapsed. The market had become flooded with too many systems, too many low-quality games, and too many imitators. But one company took the risk that single-handedly saved the future of gaming. Nintendo


If you're not using your eyes, please donate your corneas to someone who will.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510909)

You cannot discuss the Video Game Crash without mentioning the "Super Systems" like the Colecovision and the 5200. Systems like the Intellivision and the O^2 also played a huge role. Mentioning it in passing is hardly addressing the console crash, much less the "warfare" that caused it.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (4, Interesting)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510545)

Perhaps the better article to check would be Console Wars [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

Jesterboy (106813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511745)

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.

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16517973)

both XBox360, PS3, and Wii.

I lahv to count, bluh, bluh! A-one ... a-two ... a-thrrrrree!

Re:Cotton Candy, get yer Cotton Candy! (1)

asit+ler (688945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515837)

The MSX was also missing. Definitely a milestone, even if it did flop.

As is the NeoGeo/NGCD/Pocket Color.

To riff on PA (4, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16508847)

[Nostalgic "I remember when" comment]

[Criticism of modern gaming and gamers]

[Self-deprecating witticism]

[Trite conclusion]

Re:To riff on PA (1)

cdrdude (904978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16508957)

You forgot the: [Overused slashdot chiché]

Re:To riff on PA (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509063)

PROFIT!

Re:To riff on PA (1)

clackerd (797052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511413)

well done.

I remember playing Star Trek on my S100 computer (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509035)

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* (2, Informative)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509229)

"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*

Re:*shakes head* (1)

budcub (92165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509391)

I seem to recall using a Microsoft Mouse in 1993. You know, the "Dove Bar" shaped one? ;)

Re:*shakes head* (1)

topham (32406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509419)


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.

Re:*shakes head* (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510467)

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:*shakes head* (2, Insightful)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#16512953)

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 manufactured by companies other than Microsoft for the XBox and XBox 360 as "rebranded", which is rather absurd since they're not made for anyone else.

So yes, the article is mistaken in that respect.

Re:*shakes head* (4, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510283)

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.

Re:*shakes head* (1)

salle_from_sweden (896798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510635)

Were you thinking about the Microsoft Windows Sound System sound cards? (92 or 93 I think they came out)

Re:*shakes head* (2, Interesting)

Scoth (879800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510867)

Re:*shakes head* (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511111)

That's the one I was thinking of. That link was great, too: reminded my just how technical the consumer PC market was back then. Could you imagine such specifity in an advertisement today? More than just the technology has changed: the nature of the markets have, too.

Re:*shakes head* (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511877)

That wasn't MS hardware. That was somebody's hardware with MS's marketing and sticker behind it.

Try the 80s... (1)

BancBoy (578080) | more than 7 years ago | (#16517315)

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!

I used to work for Intellivision (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16509341)

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.

Re:I used to work for Intellivision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16509691)

No. Your post has so many incorrect statements it gave me cancer

Mod parent down (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510249)

That stuff is such moronic bullshit that the guy probably wasn't even born before 1984.

"8-bit digital brain for enhanced power" (2, Informative)

Rico_Suave (147634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16509605)

"The NES had ... an 8-bit digital brain for enhanced power..."

Er, so did the Atari 2600 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOS_Technology_6507 [wikipedia.org]

Re:"8-bit digital brain for enhanced power" (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515879)

Yes but the Atari 2600 is not powerful enough to be the digital brain of Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales instead? (1)

Quaz and Wally (1015357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510475)

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...

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (2, Insightful)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#16511067)

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.

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (1)

lhbtubajon (469284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16517055)

Your point is taken about Gamecube's success, though I'd imagine Sony also made quite a bundle off the PS2...

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#16524077)

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.

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (1)

lhbtubajon (469284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16525413)

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 in no position to throw money down a drain.

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that, all told, and hidden revenues counted, Sony turned a very nice profit on their console gaming division and wants to try to do it again starting this November.

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#16582940)

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 they don't make a profit and Sony will almost for certain be out if the PS3 pulls a PS2. Which is very likely given the sticker-shock price on top of what they are losing to begin with. PS3 might not have even happened if Sony didn't have such a raging hard-on given their fetish with pushing the lame-duck format Blue Ray they have so much stock invested in. All the while Nintendo is just doing what they do best; laughing their asses off putting more and more cash into their reserves. I work in the industry. I do have an inkling about what the hell I am talking about.

Re:Would Mario's Mansion have improved sales inste (1)

Rico_Suave (147634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16520239)

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.

My first (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510711)

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?

Re:My first (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16512911)

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 [wikipedia.org] has some good links to Pong sites.

Re:My first (1)

yetanotherusername (1003530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514105)

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.

A Real History Lesson (4, Informative)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 7 years ago | (#16510727)

I recommend that anyone who finds this article interesting should read Steven L. Kent's excellent The Ultimate History of Video Games [amazon.com] (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.

How ridiculous ... Intellivision game in the Atari (1)

nbvb (32836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513207)

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.

Re:How ridiculous ... Intellivision game in the At (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514197)

Are you sure that wasn't an M-Network cartridge? Those used an Intellivision cartridge shell with an "adaptor" so it could seat into an Atari cartridge slot.
Though it did seem odd not to have a standard Atari cartridge in the slot. I don't know if the image came from some stock archive or done in-house, but you'd think there would be far more Atari cartridges around to make the photo with.

Re:How ridiculous ... Intellivision game in the At (1)

cslider74 (1017092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549052)

not to be the fly in the ointment but that "intellivision game in the 2600" is actually a 2600 game Mattel marketed games under the label "M Network" and they used basically the Intellivision cartridge shell and added a adaptor piece to convert the cartridge to a 2600 of course along with a new circuit board with a 2600 version of the game. Other than that i agree the article is dry and straight from wikipedia.
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