Part 1

Innovation. That's a word that all the console makers have thrown around on occasion, be it justified or not. Microsoft says that Live is innovative. Sony says that the PS3 and Home are innovative, not to mention the PSP also. Nintendo says their Wii is innovative (that just sounds wrong) and that their DS is innovative as well. Well here's the real scoop. Videogaming as a whole is full of innovation. Each successive generation has been different from the previous one, and the next will also carry that trend forward. What will gaming be like in 10 years? I have no idea, and I don't think the console makers have a clue yet either. It has been said that if you look back you can sometimes see the way forward. Well then, let's take a look.

In the first generation of home consoles (1972-1977), the games were hardwired into the system itself. What this meant is that if you bought the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, you had a limited selection of games pre-installed on the system. In order to change the game you had to insert a circuit card that would make the proper connections so you can play a game. Better hope that you like Pong or one of its many variations, because with these systems, that's all you got.

Then came the second generation (1976-1984), starting with the Fairchild VCS (later called the Fairchild Channel F) in 1976. This is the generation that really gave the gamer choice. The Channel F introduced gamings first true innovation, the introduction of cartridge based gaming. Now, developers could make and sell new games for the system. You could play many other games, not just a hand-full of pre-installed ones. The Odyssey 2, the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision systems all continued this trend of gaming variety.

The early 80's was a confusing time to be a gamer. At the time there were many different consoles were on the market, some rushed to take advantage of the early gaming popularity. The result of all this was a flooding of the market with no real innovation or attempt at quality. The console makers had no control over what games were released by third party developers. Games were rushed to market to make a quick buck, which ended up hurting the industry as a whole.

After the video game crash in 1983 things were looking pretty bleak for gamers. None of the retailers wanted to take a chance on trying to sell a console after the E.T. and Pac-Man (among many others) fiasco of the previous generation. A landfill in New Mexico could prove that point. But, one little console (and one that was original packaged and marketed as a toy at that) would change the video game industry forever.



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