The first video games appeared in the 1960s. They were played on massive computers connected to vector displays, not analog televisions. Ralph H. Baer conceived the idea of a home video game in 1951. In the late 1960s, while working for Sanders Associates, Baer created a series of video game console designs. One of these designs, which gained the nickname of the 1966 "Brown Box", featured changeable game modes and was demonstrated to several TV manufacturers, ultimately leading to an agreement between Sanders Associates and Magnavox. In 1972, Magnavox released the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console which could be connected to a TV set. Ralph Baer's initial design had called for a huge row of switches that would allow players to turn on and off certain components of the console (the Odyssey lacked a CPU) to create slightly different games like tennis, volleyball, hockey, and chase. Magnavox replaced the switch design with separate cartridges for each game. Although Baer had sketched up ideas for cartridges that could include new components for new games, the carts released by Magnavox all served the same function as the switches and allowed players to choose from the Odyssey's built-in games.
For handheld game consoles, the fifth generation began with the release of the Virtual Boy on July 21, 1995. Nintendo extensively advertised the Virtual Boy, and claimed to have spent US$25 million on early promotional activities. The Virtual Boy was discontinued in late 1995 in Japan and in early 1996 in North America. Nintendo discontinued the system without fanfare, avoiding an official press release. Taken as a whole, the marketing campaign was commonly thought of as a failure. The Virtual Boy was overwhelmingly panned by critics and was a commercial failure. The Virtual Boy failed for a number of reasons, among them "its high price, the discomfort caused by play [...] and what was widely judged to have been a poorly handled marketing campaign."
Nevertheless, I waited ... and waited ... and waited. I sent emails. Finally, the new unit was shipped and, curiously, it had a new embargo, a strange request given it was for a review of the same product they shipped to myself and other reviewers months ago. Even more curious: While some other issues were corrected in this updated unit, as best I can tell it similarly suffers from framerate issues, just like the July unit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The features introduced in this generation include the support of new disc formats: Blu-ray Disc, utilized by the PlayStation 3, and HD DVD supported by the Xbox 360 via an optional $200 external accessory addition, that was later discontinued as the format war closed. Another new technology is the use of motion as input, and IR tracking (as implemented on the Wii). Also, all seventh generation consoles support wireless controllers. This generation also introduced the Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo DSi, which brought touchscreens into the mainstream for and added cameras to portable gaming.
The VES continued to be sold at a profit after 1977, and both Bally (with their Home Library Computer in 1977) and Magnavox (with the Odyssey² in 1978) brought their own programmable cartridge-based consoles to the market. However, it was not until Atari released a conversion of the golden age arcade hit Space Invaders in 1980 for the Atari 2600 that the home console industry took off. Many consumers bought an Atari console so they could play Space Invaders at home. The unprecedented success of Space Invaders started the trend of console manufacturers trying to get exclusive rights to arcade titles, and the trend of advertisements for game consoles claiming to bring the arcade experience home. Throughout the early 1980s, other companies released video game consoles of their own. Many of the video game systems (e.g. ColecoVision) were technically superior to the Atari 2600, and marketed as improvements over the Atari 2600. However, Atari dominated the console market in the early 1980s.
The Switch is for people who really like Nintendo’s own games. Although other publishers do occasionally support the console (Switch can run Fortnite and Minecraft, for example) it’s the beautiful homegrown titles, such as Super Mario, Mario Kart and The Legend of Zelda, that most Switch owners are here for. Its online store is also packed with most of the best smaller independent games of the past few years.
In the early 1980s, Sega Enterprises, Inc., then a subsidiary of Gulf & Western, was one of the top five arcade game manufacturers active in the United States, as company revenues surpassed $200 million between July 1981 and June 1982. A downturn in the arcade business starting in 1982 seriously hurt the company, leading Gulf & Western to sell its North American arcade manufacturing organization and the licensing rights for its arcade games to Bally Manufacturing. The company retained Sega's North American R&D operation, as well as its Japanese subsidiary, Sega Enterprises, Ltd. With its arcade business in decline, Gulf & Western executives turned to Sega Enterprises, Ltd.'s president, Hayao Nakayama, for advice on how to proceed. Nakayama advocated that the company leverage its hardware expertise gained through years working in the arcade industry to move into the home console market in Japan, which was in its infancy at the time.
The first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Microvision designed by Smith Engineering, and distributed and sold by Milton-Bradley in 1979. Crippled by a small, fragile LCD display and a very narrow selection of games, it was discontinued two years later. The Epoch Game Pocket Computer was released in Japan in 1984. The Game Pocket Computer featured an LCD screen with 75 X 64 resolution and could produce graphics at about the same level as early Atari 2600 games. The system sold very poorly, and as a result, only five games were made for it. Nintendo's Game & Watch series of dedicated game systems proved more successful. It helped to establish handheld gaming as popular and lasted until 1991. Many Game & Watch games were later re-released on Nintendo's subsequent handheld systems.