Initially released to Japan as the Famicom in 1983 the console was later offered to consumers in North America in 1985 as the 'Nintendo Entertainment System' or NES. It became an 8-bit legend.
It was much later before distribution to Europe and Australia began through Mattel in 1986 and '87 respectively.
After the predominantly North American computer game industry crash in 1983 Nintendo waded in with their shiny 'new' game console injecting much needed enthusiasm into the market and laying the groundwork for the most bitter war of the 1980 and 90s.... Were you a SEGA or Nintendo kid?
Using the tried and true ROM cartridge system for program storage and distribution the NES in popularity quickly became the new Atari 2600 for many homes.
In fact, it almost was Atari that released the NES in the US but some seemingly shortsighted bitterness relating to Nintendo having released a version of Donkey Kong for Atari's competitor Coleco's Colecovision sunk the deal.
Wanting to avoid poor public acceptance due to gamers and parents previously being burnt with discontinued consoles and game lines in '83 Nintendo remodeled the NES to make it look like something new. This was especially true of the front loading (video recorder-like) cartridge port.
Okay, technically the front loader design had been used in the Fairchild 'Channel F' and possibly other low distribution, unloved consoles but it was new enough to seem.... new.
It's worth noting that the program cartridges ('Game Paks') released everywhere bar Japan were physically quite a lot larger and have seventy two connector pins opposed to the Famicom's sixty. Famicom cartridges were made in a variety of coloured plastics opposed to those released elsewhere for the NES which were predominantly grey.
The NES can display a total of six shades of grey and forty eight colours. Primary colours can be displayed in darker shades using a bit of tricky coding; presumably to make them flicker between say red and black at a certain speed and frequency. A total of twenty five colours can be displayed simultaneously and it outputs at a resolution of 256h x 240v pixels. A total of sixty four sprites can be display on screen at once in either 8x8 pixel or 8x16 pixel sizes. This was a global size value which locked all sprites to this size.
The NES out did most game consoles of the day by offering five sound channels which allowed for games to be created with surprisingly complex and lively music, many of which have become and inspired the iconic 'chip tunes' of today.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|