History of Gaming Consoles

Last week, we saw the new designs for the PlayStation 5, and the new Xbox Series X, to mixed results. Personally, I don’t much care what a console looks like, but how it performs. Other people, however, used it as an opportunity to make some good memes.

I thought about how, being a 25 year old, I wasn’t around during the first console wars, the first time I remember people arguing about which console was better, was when the PS3 and the Xbox 360 came out.

As a note, the “wars” are just how new consoles come out close to each other, also known as “generations,” and is fun to choose different consoles and have brand loyalty. The Nerdd doesn’t support actual anger regarding different consoles. Besides, PC is the Master Race anyway.

First Generation

The first generation was the creation of home video games. These were primarily Plug-n-Play type games, such as Pong, and as it was an unexplored space, there was a boom of creation. There were 887 consoles created in the first generation of gaming, with the only ones of note really being the Odyssey and the Atari. This lasted from 1972 (Atari is Founded) until 1984.

A couple of kids play the game “Pong” on Atari (1975) : TheWayWeWere
Atari’s Pong

I will note that there is a lot of crossover as far as when the generations started and ended. They are usually marked by technological advances that are common between different consoles.

Second Generation

What marked the beginning of the Second Generation, was when in 1976 the Fairchild Channel F was released, which had games on cartridges, instead of being part of the console itself. There were roughly 15 different consoles between 1976-1992, when the generation ended. The most popular were the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, the Magnavox Odyssey, and the Nintendo Game & Watch. Part of what the Second Generation so successful was the rising popularity of the arcade, and kids wanting to bring that fun home.

Amazon.com: Atari 2600 Video Computer System Console: Video Games

Third Generation

The Third Generation began in 1983, when Nintendo and Sega really got into the game (pun intended). Nintendo released the Nintendo Family Computer, and Sega’s SG-1000. The new technology of this generation is 8-bit sound and graphics. It was also in the Third Generation we saw the creation of Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros. There were a total of 23 consoles, and the generation ended in 2003.

The Legend of Zelda No HUD NES PS Vita Wallpapers - Free PS Vita ...

Fourth Generation

In 1987, the TurboGrafx-16 was released, which was the first console to upgrade to a 16-bit system. This opened new options, which were once again dominated by Nintendo and Sega, with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the Sega Genesis. This was also when the first Nintendo Game Boy handheld system was released. In trying to compete with Nintendo’s Mario, Sega created Sonic the Hedgehog, as a way to show off just how fast their processing speed in their system was. Other games from this time include Chrono Trigger and Mortal Kombat. This generation had 17 systems, and ended in 2004. You can see how there are less systems each year, as only a few are able to find widespread success.

Sega Genesis classics are now playable on Amazon's Fire TV - The Verge

Fifth Generation

in 1993, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was released, which popularized the use of 3D polygon-based graphics, and CD audio quality. This is when Sony made their debut with the PlayStation, which was originally supposed to be part of Nintendo’s new system, the Nintendo 64, giving it a Disc-based system. However, Sony decided to release the PlayStation themselves, and took 61% of console sales in 1994, overtaking Nintendo’s long standing lead. Some of the biggest games of the year included GoldenEye 007, Final Fantasy VII, Super Smash Bros., Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, and Pokemon Red & Blue on the Game Boy. There were 14 systems in this generation, which ended in 2005.

FINAL FANTASY® VII Game | PS4 - PlayStation

Sixth Generation

IN 1998 the Sega Dreamcast was released, which was the first console to include a built-in modular modem for internet support and online play, which was the defining feature of this generation. Here was the last addition to what is the modern lineup, with the creation of Microsoft’s Xbox, and the death of Sega, with the Dreamcast being their final release. The PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Gamecube were part of this generation. Some of the most popular games were God of War, Halo, as well as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The generation ended in 2013 with a total of 10 consoles.

Halo Combat Evolved Multiplayer Gameplay #3 - YouTube

Seventh Generation

In 2005, the Game Wave Family Entertainment System was released, which started the Seventh Generation with technology that I don’t fully understand. This generation was known for two things, HD visuals, and motion sensing gameplay. The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii defined this generation, and the PlayStation and Xbox followed the Wii’s lead with motion sensors, with the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. This was also the release of the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Portable, which were very popular handheld devices. Some of the most popular games included Grand Theft Auto V, which was released for the PlayStation and Xbox simultaneously, as well as Mario Kart Wii. The generation ended in 2017, with a total of 7 consoles.

Americans whip Brits at Wii Sports | TechRadar

Eighth Generation

The Eighth Generation began in 2012 with the release of the WiiU, however, it is really known for the other three consoles that have come out since, namely the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. The systems aren’t as grouped by similar technology, but instead by how closely they are released to each other. Instead of games being created for systems, systems are now just how you play. Different games are released across both PlayStation and Xbox simultaneously, with few exceptions, and the Nintendo continues making games themselves. As we are still in this generation today, it is unclear which are the ultimate games. However, an argument could be made for Skyrim, Fortnite, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, Portal 2, Breath of the Wild, and several others. Again, there have only been four consoles in the Eighth Generation.

Today's Best Console Sales: Xbox, PS4, Switch Deals [Updated]

Ninth Generation

While not yet officially titled as such, it seems with the new release of designs for the PlayStation 5, and the Xbox Series X, that they will be the first of the new generation. With the PlayStation announcement, it was also announced there would be a Spider-Man: Miles Morales game, and both systems are looking forward to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla as well as Cyberpunk 2077. Who knows what the next generation will bring, but I am excited.

What was your first console? Let us know in the comments below!

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