The so-called “Brown Box” is considered to be one of the first ever gaming consoles. Built by German engineer Ralph Baer, the Brown Box boasted a total of 12 playable games.
The Magnavox Odyssey, based on Baer’s Brown Box, was the first commercially marketed gaming console. Unfortunately, customers failed to see the use of the console and sales were not successful.
Gaming company Atari introduced cartridge-based gaming for the first time on their console the Atari 2600 VCS. This console was a massive commercial success and featured games such as Breakout and Space Invaders, which are still well-known today.
After what is known as the “video game crash”, where many console manufacturers went bankrupt, Nintendo broke through with the release of their Nintendo Entertainment System, or Famicom. Introducing games such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, it went on to become one of the best-selling consoles of all time.
This year marks Nintendo’s next great success – the immensely popular Game Boy. It was one of the very first handheld games and was famous for its version of Tetris.
The release of Sony’s PlayStation was but the introduction to gaming as it is known today. The PlayStation made use of CD-ROM-based games, which were much less expensive than cartridge games, boosting the console’s popularity even more. Popular PlayStation titles included Resident Evil and Tekken.
Sony had yet another gaming victory with the release of the PlayStation 2, which also functioned as a DVD player. Leaning heavily on game titles like Grand Theft Auto, PlayStation 2 enjoyed great commercial success.
Microsoft gave Sony some competition with the release of the Xbox, popularising games such as Halo.
Sony made a breakthrough in the world of handheld games by releasing the PSP (PlayStation Portable), which sported many extra features such as photo and video storage.
Microsoft and Sony competed yet again, with both companies releasing big consoles, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 respectively, within a short time of each other.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 promotes social gameplay by providing a means to stream video and access the internet.
And the future?
With software distribution platforms like Steam and Origin making PC gaming even more accessible than before, one could wonder if there is still a future for consoles. But with future consoles also looking to implement distribution platforms of their own, it is clear to see that the age of the console is far from over.
Photo: Brendan Fraser