Games History

Notable People

Nolan Bushnell

Ralph H. Baer

A.S. (Sandy) Douglas

(Big) Willy Higinbotham

Steve Russell

Video Game Arcade

The first microprcessor based Arcade Game was actually set up in 1971 by two Stanford University students. It was called Galaxy Game and was a coin-operated version of Steve Russells Spacewar! This was not a commercial success because it cost $20,000 for a unit and it took 10 cents per game (Maths was supposidly a strong point at stanford? more details) Nolan Bushnell was developing a game that would cost much less to produce but again with roots from the same pot. This game was Computer Space. Released about a month before Galaxy Game it used a TV, transisters and diodes to create the functionality required by his program. In 1972 Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney created Atari. Their first game was the smash hit Pong. Pong was the first real success of the new order of entertainmnet. Atari’s next video game smash hit was the highly addictive Breakout in 1976. Breakout was influenced from Pong. Another major Arcade Game was Space Invaders in 1978 created by Tomohiro Nishikado. It was manufactured by Taito and licensed by Midway in the U.S. Other extremely popular Arcade games include Galaxian (1979), Pac-Man(1980), Battlezone(1980), and Donkey Kong(1981).

Pre-Crash 8 bit systems

List of systems:

  • Atari 2600 / VCS
  • Magnavox Odyssey2
  • Sega Game 1000
  • Intellivision
  • Colecovision
  • Atari 5200

Atari 2600
Released 1977.
Originally known as the Atari VCS (Video Computer System), it changed its name with the release of the later system, the Atari 5200. The initial price for the system was $199 and had 9 games to choose from. In 1979 the 2600 was the best selling Christmas present (and console) with a million units being sold that year.

In 1980, the Atari licensed Space Invaders for use on the 2600 system which greatly increased the system’s popularity – the sales doubled to 2 million units that year.

When the company Activision was formed by previous Atari members, a mass of games started to be produced by other stand-alone companies for the Atari. This started to spoil Atari’s image and was the main reason for the video game crash of 1983.

Famous Games:

  • Adventure
  • Breakout
  • Yars’ Revenge
  • Pitfall
  • Atlantis
  • Pac-Man

Magnavox Odyssey2
Released 1978.
The original Odyssey used internal circuit boards that contained all the games that were playable by the system, and switched between these. The Odyssey2 was designed to be like the Atari 2600, playing programmable ROM cartridges.

It took until 1983 to sell 1 million units, comparing the figures to the Atari 2600, the competition wasn’t very tight, but it was a steady flow of sales.

Famous Games:

  • Frogger
  • Q*bert
  • Super Cobra
  • Popeye

Released 1979.
The Intellivision started development not even a year after its main competitor, the Atari 2600 was released. When it was released, it had a price tag of £299 - $100 higher than that of the Atari. By 1982, the sales were 2 million units. The most popular titles sold over 1 million copies each.

Famous Games:

  • pitfall
  • tron
  • burger time
  • pitstop

Released 1982.
The unique selling point of the Colecovision was the arcade quality graphics available at home, and the ability to play other consoles’ games (notably the Atari 2600). 12 titles were available at the release of the console, with approx. 170 titles in total at its peak.

Famous Games

  • Donkey Kong
  • SimCity

Atari 5200
Released 1982.
This advanced version of the previous Atari system was firstly produced as a direct competitor to the Intellivision, but wound up being more in competition with the Colecovision.

There are a number of design flaws that seriously hinder the system, and this has made the system generally regarded as a failure.

Famous Games:

  • Pitfall II
  • RealSports Baseball
  • Jungle Hunt
  • Ballblazer

Sega Game 1000
Released 1983.
This system marked SEGA’s entry into video games, which would continue until 2001 with the Dreamcast. The SG 1000 was nowhere near as successful as the previously mentioned consoles, but from this console we get the mark2 and mark3 systems which later became the Sega Master System.

Famous Games:

  • Dig Dug
  • Pole Position
  • Zaxxon

Video game crash 1983

The video game crash of 1983 brought about the end of the second generation of gaming consoles. It caused bankruptcy to many companies which created home computers and video games consoles in North America in late 1983 / early 1984. It lasted for two years until Nintendo brought out the NES, which was a great success unlike many other consoles around the time. A lot of games were scheduled for release in 1983 which caused mass over production without any consumer interest to buy the games.

There were many factors which contributed towards the crash in 1983:

  • Many poor titles released and high profile titles such as ET being a flop up on release, which damaged Atari financially
  • A lot of consoles released at the same time, leaving consumers with too much choice. Such consoles include:
    • Atari 2600
    • Atari 5200
    • Bally Astrocade
    • ColecoVision
    • Coleco Gemini
    • Emerson Arcadia 2001
    • Fairchild Channel F System II
    • Magnavox Odyssey2
    • Mattel Intellivision
  • The natural decline of the Atari 2600, which dominated the market at the time, without offers of a console to take its place.

Effect on the industry
Since many toy stores were unable to return big orders of video games, many sold them cheaply in discount bins and sale tables. Games went from $34.95 to $4.95 each giving many stores a hard time to make any profit. This shakeout resulted in Magnavox and Coleco abandoning the video games business along with many other consoles. However, while this was happening, the largest third party cartridge manufacturer, Activision, survived on personal computer platforms thanks to there ability to average their income and recover millions in past tax payments.

Chronology of Video Games

A PDF can be found, with various important dates in the video game insutry
Holy poop ^^ Worth a read and keeping a copy…

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