H o w t h e Te c h n o l o g y Wo r k s
A brief history of video game systems
The first commercial arcade video game, Computer Space by Nutting Associates, was
introduced in 1971 and the next year Atari released Pong, the first commercially success-
ful arcade video game. In 1975, Atari launched a home version of Pong which was a great
success and opened up new horizons for home entertainment. Although the Fairchild
Channel F, released in 1976, was the first true interchangeable game system, Atari once
again had the first commercial success. Introduced in 1977 as the Atari Video Computer
System (VCS), the model 2600 used removable cartridges, which allowed a multitude of
games to be played using the same hardware. Systems like the Atari 2600, its successor
the 5200, Coleco's ColecoVision and Mattel's IntelliVision helped to generate interest in
home video games for a brief period. But interest began to wane as the quality of the
home product lagged far behind the technologically-advanced standard of coin-operated
In 1985, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).This develop-
ment transformed the gaming industry.The NES established three concepts that were
widely adopted in the video game system industry:
- The use of a pad controller instead of a joystick;
- Authentic reproductions of arcade video games for home use; and
- An aggressive pricing strategy that meant making a loss on the hardware but
recouping this against the number of games sold.
strategy paid off, and the NES sparked a revival in the home video game
market that continues to thrive and expand today. Home video game systems were no
longer mere imitations of arcade machines and new game ideas that would have been
impractical to create even for commercial systems were developed for the home market.
While Nintendo continued to develop and introduce new game consoles (Super Nintendo,
N64, GameCube), other companies such as Sega (Megadrive, Dreamcast), Sony (PlayStation,
PlayStation 2) and Microsoft (Xbox) developed and released their own home systems.
Current systems often boast additional functionality, such as modems, compact disc
players and DVD drives.These features can be used to enhance the gaming experience,
and they can be used independently for email,Web browsing, and listening to music.This
broader functionality has cemented the gaming console's position in the home and, to
some people, the PlayStation 2 has become as essential an item as the television or tele-
What is a video game?
The terms `video game' and `computer game' are generally used interchangeably,
regardless of whether a computer or a console is involved.Typically there will be a screen
(TV, monitor, liquid crystal display (LCD)) through which the game is viewed. Input
devices vary depending on the particulars of the game and hardware, but usually include
a controller, joystick, keyboard/keypad, or mouse.