Evolution of the Games Consoles

ATARI 2600
ATARI 5200
ATARI 7800
XBOX 360
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2013 equivalent price

The console that started it all. Invented by Ralph Baer, the Odyssey was the first console with interchangeable games on circuit cards.

It even had a light-gun peripheral and used television overlays, which meant that you had to actually place stickers on your television screen

One of the most popular early games consoles, netting nearly $2 billion in 1980.

On it’s release the 2600 wasn’t an immediate success due to the host of Pong machines already available. Once Atari had fully licensed Space Invaders from Taito the console really took off.

The second Magnavox was made in collaboration with Phillips and this time, used cartridges.

The Odyssey2 utilised a board game element for some of its games. These came with a pysical board and playing pieces, the most notable of which was Quest for the Rings.

Released to compete with the Atari 2600, this console was superior in terms of graphics and sound.

The controllers had cardboard overlays, and eventually Mattel released the System Changer which enabled the console to play games made for the Atari 2600.

The second generation, more powerful Atari was based on their home computer hardware.

Due to the fact that it was not backwards compatible with Atari 2600 games, and increased competition from other consoles, the Atari 5200 was not a big seller.

The Vectrex used vector-based graphics and screen overlays and is considered to be very cool, even by today’s standards.

The system had an innovative controller and a small but decent selection of games, including the cult-classic Minestorm.

Designed to re-create the arcade experience in your living room, the Coleco Vision was packaged with a near-arcade perfect version of Donkey Kong.

The console initially sold well but was discontinued in 1985 following the collapse of the gaming market in 1983.

Backwards compatible with Atari 2600 games, the 7800 had a limited selection of games available with a few decent titles.

However, the 7800’s fate was sealed by the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985.

Originally called the Famicom for its Japanese release, the NES was regarded as saving the games industry after the 83 crash.

The NES had a plethora of great games including the biggest selling title ever - Super Mario Bros 3. The console also had a range of popular peripherals.

The first Master System could play both cartridges and credit-card sized Sega cards, which were cheaper but not as good.

The Master System was released to compete with the NES, and in 1990 Sega released the Master System 2, which was a lower cost version with a better game installed.

Until the release of the SNES, the Genesis dominated the 16-bit market. Despite the release of the SNES it remained popular with clever marketing of the Sega CD and promotion of their more extensive range of games.

Sonic pushed the capability of the Genesis to the limit, but kept it popular.

Based on arcade machines holding 6 different games, the Neo Geo was marketed as a 24-bit system.

It’s graphics and sound were technically superior to those of the 16-bit consoles, but it’s downfall was largely due to the price. The Neo Geo was the first to use a removable memory card.

The best selling console of the 16-bit generation, the SNES had advanced graphics and sound.

Despite limited, but very good titles initially, the SNES achieved a big win with the first console version of Street Fighter II. Donkey Kong Country even helped it compete with the mighty PlayStation.

Although a complete multimedia system, the CD-i was seen as a games console.

It was also a commercial failure with several of its games being considered amongst the worst ever made. Hoping to capture the movie market too, the CD-i had no hope of keeping up with the growing popularity of DVD.

Deemed a commercial failure, Atari’s supposedly 64-bit console marked the end of their forray into gaming hardware.

The console that promised so much and delivered so little just couldn’t keep up with the Genesis or SNES. A universally disliked controller and few games sealed its fate.

Panasonic’s 3DO was designed to be the future of home entertainment as a complete multimedia system, and had some innovative features.

However, due to poor launch games, constant delays on promised expansion hardware and its substantial price tag, the 3DO was doomed.

Sega’s 32-bit was meant to be the ultimate console. Sadly for Sega, Sony and Nintendo were hot on their heels with their consoles capable of 3D rendering and full-motion video.

The Saturn’s dual CPU design should have made it the most powerful console, but just made it difficult to program for.

Sony’s first forray into the world of gaming started life as a CD add-on for the SNES, and went on to become the leading console of the 32-bit generaton, finally stealing Nintendo’s reign over the gaming world.

With another 3 generations of PlayStation still to come, it was the start of something special.

The N64 is still held in high regard by gamers the world over, largely due to two iconic games - GoldenEye 64 and Super Mario 64.

The N64 was designed as a party machine, with 4 controller ports and a host of fun titles. An add-on released later also allowed it to play Game Boy Color games.

Launched on 09/09/99 the Dreamcast was released with decent launch titles.

However, despite having a built in modem and quirky memory cards with their own control, Sega’s comeback console’s success was short lived as something big was on the horizon...

If you were wondering which was the best-selling console of all time, here it is!

Backwards compatible with PS1 games, the PS2 shifted a staggering 155 million units. The PS2 gaming library was huge with a plethora of top titles - even 12 years after its release new games were still being developed for it.

The GameCube featured online gaming with its Broadband Adapter add-on and the design meant consoles could be linked.

It could also be linked to the Game Boy Advance and games came on 3-inch DVDs. Because it only had 4 online titles and didn’t play DVDs it was soon trumped by the PlayStation2 and Xbox.

The first Microsoft console and the first US console since the Jaguar, the Xbox was hugely popular.

It came with the integrated Xbox Live service which would revolutionise the way we play. The Xbox was also the first games console to feature a built-in HDD for storing saved games and DLC.

Part of the 7th generation of consoles, the Xbox360 sold out on release and sold 70m units by Sep 2012.

The 360 incorporated the new Xbox Live which allowed online gaming, internet acess and 3rd-party applications such as Netflix. The console could also play HD DVDs, discontinued in 2008.

Sony’s third Playstation incorporated built-in WiFi for web surfing and gaming, and a Blu Ray player.

Online gaming with the PS3 was also free, compared to the Xbox360 which carried a monthly subscription fee. Although the library is smaller than the Xbox360’s, the PS3 carries some top exclusive titles.

Although a very different system, the Wii went head to head with the PS3 and Xbox360 and was immensely successful.

The Wii was the first console to offer decent motion sensor control and provided a platform that could be enjoyed by families and gamers of all ages.

Created to bring back some of the core gamers that Nintendo lost to the PS3 and Xbox360, the Wii U can be used with the Wii or as a standalone console.

The Wii U is a large controller that incorporates a HD touch scren on which you can play, or bring another dimension to games played on your television.

Valve’s first step into gaming hardware is more like a server, on which you can play live-streamed games.

Essentially a tiny console shel with high-end PC internals and operating system, the Piston will have upgrade potential, and be capable of delivering very detailed graphics.

Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox One will feature an 8 core CPU built specifically for the One by AMD, as well as a D3D 11.1 graphics chip with a dedicated 32MB of built-in ESRAM memory.

It has 8GB DDR3 of RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive for storage. There’s also a Blu Ray player, HDMI inputs and outputs, a digital optical out and 2x USB 3.0 connections.

Add in voice controls, an updated Xbox Live service, a new controller and superb launch titles and we’ve got a true rival to the Playstation 4, out later in November 2013.

Sony’s next-gen PlayStation 4 features an 8 core x86-64 AMD ‘Jaguar’ single-chip custom processor CPU, an AMD next-gen Radeon-based graphics engine, 8GB GDDR5 memory and a 500GB removable hard-disk drive.

It features a Blu Ray player with DVD playback, HDMI and digital out optical ports, Bluetooth and 2 USB 3.0 ports.

The PS4 features slightly better internal hardware and a cheaper purchase price, but a less stunning catalogue of games available at launch, so it’s up to you whether you want to opt for this or Microsoft’s Xbox One.