A Timeline of Home Gaming Consoles & Arcade (1970 – 1993)

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1972


In 1972, the licensing of the technology was done by Magnavox after the first demonstration of the “Brown Box.” This further led to the release of the Magnavox Odyssey, which is the first official video game console.
At the start of the cinema, movies didn’t contain any sounds, and the same goes for this video game console, and graphics were very low as compared to today’s standards.


1975 – 1977


Given the popularity of the PONG arcade machine by Atari in 1973, they started marketing it as a separate home console in 1975. Magnavox also upgraded the Odyssey console and released its upgraded versions, the Magnavox Odyssey 100 and 200, in the same year.

Between the years 1976 and 1977, Magnavox released various Odyssey series consoles and made the new console better than the last one. Graphics, controllers, and digital scoring were upgraded while games for these consoles remained the same.


Magnavox was the biggest competitor of Atari and Atari introduced Video Pinball and Stunt Cycle to compete with the competition. The console market was huge, and various other companies, including RCA, Coleco, and Fairchild, released their consoles.

The only difference between the Odyssey 300 by Magnavox and the Wonder Wizard by General Home Products was that the Odyssey has better paddle controllers; otherwise, the Wonder Wizard was better in overall performance.

Telstar was the first video game controller by Coleco, which performed pretty well in the market as it played games in color. Video game consoles by RCA and Fairchild didn’t perform well. Between 1977 and 1978, Coleco released various new gaming consoles to hold their place in the market.


1978 – 1980


Nintendo, which would go on for the next three decades to become a key participant in the video game business, released its first console series between 1977 and 1979.

Only the Color TV-Game Series was available in Japan. By effectively following the footsteps of Atari, these consoles offered Pong-style games.

Although some new companies tried to enter the console market, their success was limited. Bally Astrocade was released in 1977 and was praised for its outstanding graphics performance, but it failed soon due to various reasons.

In 1979, Mattel released the Intellivision system, which was so powerful that it intimidated the Atari 2600.

To compete with the Atari 2600, Coleco released a variety of different consoles in the market to let players enjoy sports,car racing, pinball games, and shooting games.

Atari 2600 - Activision - Skiing International Edition | Flickr
Activision’s “Skiing – International Edition” for the Atari


The same was the case with Magnavox, but it produced Pong-based consoles only. Philips purchased Magnavox in 1974 and released some new versions of the Magnavox Odyssey Console.
Regardless, due to its cartridge-based console with superior graphics and games, the Atari 2600 stayed at the top.

1981 – 1985


This period is the golden age of the video gaming industry, all thanks to progress. In the 1980s, many consoles started experimenting with other gaming genres, including adventure, combat, platform, and role-playing.

Mario Bros (1983), Golden Axe (1988), Pac-Man (1980), The Legend of Zelda (1986), and Final Fantasy (1987), etc., were some of the most popular games of this period.

This era also marked the transition of consoles from dedicated to cartridge-based. Sega and Nintendo were the most popular consoles at that time. Sega released its first game console, known as the SG-1000, in 1983. It wasn’t released in the United States market and sold in Asia only.

However, that console set the groundwork for the yet-to-release Sega Master System, which was finally released in 1985. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the best-selling, and it was released in 1983. The NES is thought of as the console which laid the foundation for Nintendo as a gaming corporation.
Companies in the video game console industry developed new consoles, including ColecoVision, the Atari 5200, and the Intellivision II, but they weren’t as popular as Sega and Nintendo. ColecoVision was the last console by the company because the NES dethroned it a year later when it was released in the US.


1986 – 1990


In 1988, Sega released the Mega Drive/Genesis, which became the most popular console. Nintendo released SNES or Super Nintendo Entertainment System () two years later. After the success of the Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega produced the Master System II, and this was considered the most significant console battle of the decade.
Atari released the Atari 7800, but it was slowly fading out of the console business. The biggest benefit of this console was its backward compatibility with the Atari 2600, which allowed gamers to enjoy their favourite title from the past.

NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 attempted to compete with both Nintendo’s SNES and NES as well as Sega Genesis consoles till 1991. At that time, it finished fourth in the video game industry. The SuperGrafx (1989), which was an improved version, performed the same.
SNK Neo-Geo was previously known as an arcade machine king, and the company decided to release its home video game consoles in 1990.


1991 – 1993


In the 1990s, the transition of storage media for games happened from cartridges to compact discs. This changed visuals from 2D to 3D in video games and enhanced their capacity.

Philips released their first CD console in 1991, which was known as the CD-i. It was a complete flop due to its poor game selection and annoying controls. The TurboGrafx-16 was upgraded to TurboGrafx-CD in 1992 to meet with demands of the market. The Sega CD was released, and it defeated the TurboGrafx-CD.

In 1993, Atari decided to compete with rival 16-bit consoles by releasing the CD-based Atari Jaguar. But it was only a year later that Atari started losing the competition to advanced next-generation consoles such as the Sega Saturn and Playstation.

Commodore, a home computer company, located in the United States, entered the market with the Amiga CD32 in 1993. Unfortunately, Commodore only lasted and declared bankruptcy in 1994 and halted the sales of a promising video gaming console

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