The Evolution of Consoles

Krishna Garikipati, journalist/editor


Gaming consoles have come a long way from where they started and have become part of our world in every way. In the beginning, Ralph H. Baer, “The Father of Video Games”, created the “Brown Box” in 1968. The Brown Box was a working prototype. It was the first console that could connect to ordinary television sets. It could play six games: ping-pong, tennis, handball, volleyball, a chase game, and a light gun game. Now, this brown box is essential to what will happen in the future. Ralph Baer took his brown box to the video game company Magnavox and Magnavox bought it. They changed the name and design of the brown box, called it Magnavox Odyssey, and released it in 1972. It was the 1st official home entertainment system. As in the first movies, it did not have any sound. This console sparked a fire for the video game industry. In 1975 Atari released Pong, which was a smaller version of their famous 1973 Pong arcade machine. It included on-screen scoring and it included sound when the ball hit the paddle, which was revolutionary. Now there was competition, so Magnavox released two more consoles: the Odyssey 100 and 200. Then in 1976 Atari released Super Pong, It had color, a built-in speaker, and 4 built-in games. Odyssey put out three more that year: the Magnavox Odyssey 300, 400, and 500. 

The second generation of game consoles started with Atari. They released the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) in 1977. This was a huge step in the video consoles because Atari made detachable controllers and the first game console to use plug-in cartridges. It was slow to sell at first, but when Atari bought the licensing of Space Invaders, it skyrocketed in sales. Magnavox put out Odyssey, 2000, 3000, and 4000. Trying to take Atari from their throne, Mattel made the Intellivision. It had better graphics, color, and sound, plus it was the first game console to use in-game voice. The Atari 5200 went on to beat the Mattel Intellivision. It was the first to have 4 ports for controllers and the first TV switch, which could switch between the TV and the game when turned on. Since there were so many game consoles to choose from, games were being made in a hurry, giving consumers some horribly-made games. Many companies went into bankruptcy, which ended the 2nd generation of game consoles. 

The third generation of games started with the very famous company Nintendo. The Nintendo Company stepped up to the business of reviving the gaming industry in 1985. First, Nintendo had a strict licensing policy that encouraged only high-quality third-party game development which helped in making good games. They introduced us to Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid. 

Nintendo dominated the 3rd generation of game consoles. Sega wanted some of the action in North America, so they released Sega Master System in 1986. Atari came out with Atari Jr. and 7800. 

The fourth generation of game consoles came in 1989 when NEC made their console called TurboGrafx 16. Even though Sega Master System had better graphics than Nintendo, it was not too well received by many American consumers. Also in 1989, Sega released their next game console called Genesis. It did fairly well with consumers because of arcade game transformations. In 1990 SNK was having a huge success with their arcade games because of their graphics processors. The owner wanted to bring the arcade to peoples’ homes, so they released SNK Neo-Geo. It did not do too well. In 1991 Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Because of its late start, Sega Genesis was beating Super NES in sales, but Nintendo caught up and eventually took over as a leader. 

Fifth Generation game consoles contain 32 and 64 bits processors. Since Sega came over to North America they have wanted to beat Nintendo, so they released Sega CD for Genesis in 1992. It was all downhill from there for Sega and its popularity. A lot of Sega’s games failed and Sony’s Playstation came into the console industry in 1995. Nintendo asked Sony to make an add-on for the SNES and Nintendo wanted to name it “Playstation”. Sony was willing but requested 25% from the profits it made. Nintendo decided to not do it. Sony Playstation was a 32-bit processor, and Sony had a successful launch. Nintendo, instead of making a 32-bit processor console, went straight to a 64-bit processor called the Nintendo 64, which was released in 1996. This was a huge success, giving us games like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and GoldenEye 007. 

The sixth generation came in the year 1998 when Sega released the Dreamcast. It was the first console to have a modem built in to support online play. Sony released PlayStation 2 in the year 2000. This became the best-selling console of all time. It also beat the Sega Dreamcast into submission, forcing Sega to stop making consoles and become a game developer. Sony gained dominance as the number one home entertainment system. In 2001, Microsoft had computer technology so they wanted to try to have a go with the video game industry and released the Xbox. It used the Sega Dreamcast idea and the Xbox allowed gamers to play each other online via broadband. It would also allow the gamers to download content to their console. Even though it had the same capabilities as Sony Playstation 2 and a better processor, it could not beat Sony in Sales. However, Microsoft did push Nintendo to 3rd place in the console market. 

The 7th, with Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005, with a better console design, feature wireless controllers, better graphics, customizable faceplate, and USB ports to connect mp3 players or external hard drives, etc. It also redesigned their online experience called Xbox Live. A year later in 2006, Sony released the Playstation 3. The Nintendo Wii was also released in 2006. This allowed the gamer to “get off the couch” and interact with the game. With this new idea, Nintendo appealed to all ages. Now Microsoft and Sony saw what Nintendo was doing and wanted to cash in on that area too. Microsoft made the Kinect and Sony made the Move. 

The 8 generations started when PlayStation 4 came out in 2013, the Xbox original came out in 2013. as well both Both have better graphics than before. The well-known Nintendo Switchswitch came out in 2017 with a having a smaller screen and was not being unconnected to the tv. It had fewer quality graphics but was better than other Nintendo consoles and had good games, which exploded with young gamers. 

The 9 generation is when the most known and recent consols came out, including the Xbox series X/S which came out in November 2020. The PlayStation 5 came out in November 2020 as well trying to compete with Xbox X/S. Both these consoles are the best consols graphically, are or smooth running, and they have amazing first-person shooter- to- racing car games like Rocketrocket League. This 9 generation is sure to have one of the biggest impacts in the world because, with Covid-19, many people are spending more time playing games, which will have a large impact on the industry. There is no doubt that we will see technological advances in the 9 generations.’s%20PlayStation%205,generation%20of%20video%20game%20consoles.