Console Portraits: A 40-Year Pictorial History of Gaming

via Wired > Gaming

Inventor Ralph Baer designed the first video-game console for the home and in May 1967 he played the first-ever two-player game. “I lost!” Baer notes.

Photo: Courtesy of Ralph Baer


Although a footnote in the history of video-game consoles, The Fairchild Channel F, released in 1976, was notable for being the first system to use programmable cartridges.

Photo: Courtesy of Marty Goldberg


The founding of Activision opened the floodgates of third-party development for the Atari 2600, as developers hurried to cash in on the system’s popularity. Custer’s Revenge was an unfortunate result of the gold rush: the game called for players to control a buck-naked cavalryman, and attempt to avoid a hail of arrows in order to have relations with a tied-up female native American.

Image: Courtesy of AtariAge

Originally By Greg Orlando

Forty years ago this month Ralph Baer — a German-born inventor who fled to America from fascist Germany — built and played the first home-video game. Called the “Brown Box” the proto-console was a nondescript unit powered by D-cells and wired to a black-and-white TV. “It’s obvious that no one could have foreseen what it would develop into,” Baer says today.

That invention sparked a revolution — one that has shaped the way humans play, and even how they interact with one another. Video games are firmly embedded in popular culture, and their influence stretches across all mediums. And while modern consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 may be light years beyond that first Brown Box technologically, the breakaway success of Nintedo’s Wii reminds us that the most important component has never changed: simple fun.

This pictorial history isn’t comprehensive — the profound impact of the light-gun peripheral, to pick one example, could easily merit its own story. But here are some of the people, titles and events that shaped four decades of video games in the home.

Read full article + images here >


Filed under: art, design, new media, research, social, technology

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