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My Console / Computer History

I have very fond memories when I look back at all the gaming devices I have used and enjoyed. Here is an article covering the journey I experienced in the order I acquired them…

Atari 2600

I believe for many people around this time, their first console was of course the Atari 2600. Classics like Pitfall, Crystal Castles and Centipede. The graphics were very basic, however the gameplay was always fascinating.

The Atari 2600, released in 1977, is the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in.[1] Originally known as the Atari VCS—for Video Computer System—the machine’s name was changed to “Atari 2600” (from the unit’s Atari part number, CX2600) in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200. It was wildly successful, and during the 1980s, “Atari” was a synonym for this model in mainstream media. The 2600 was typically bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a cartridge game.

As great as it was, those stick controllers did not exactly allow for long gaming sessions! Really stiff to move and pressing that scary red button even required thumbs of steel. Imagine my joy when they released a much softer controller later on.

Atari 65XE

That would have to be the Atari 65XE with those lovely (and I mean annoying) tapes. This was the first time I had a crack at running a few simple programs in BASIC.

10 print “hello it is me”
20 goto 10

This was my very first program, not amazing as all it did was loop the hello portion but hey it was a start and quite entertaining when you see it for the first time.

Atari built a series of 8-bit home computers based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU, starting in 1979. Over the next decade several versions of the same basic design would be released. These included the original Atari 400 and 800, and their successors, the XL and XE series of computers. However, the models remained largely identical internally. They were the first home computers designed with custom coprocessor chips. IBM even considered licensing Atari for their own personal computer, but decided to build their own. However, design flaws, internal corporate turmoil and difficult, fast-changing market conditions contributed to the 8-bit Atari computers’ eventual demise.

Commodore 64

You certainly could not forget the wonderful Commodore 64 and although again mostly the games were stored on tapes and when loading could seriously put you in to a hypnotic trance with its dazzling light show, this was my favourite old school computer. My hightly rated games included Mayhem in Monsterland, Nemesis, Batman the Movie among many many others.

The Commodore 64 personal computer released in August 1982 became the best selling single computer model of all time. The Commodore 64 is commonly referred to as the C64, other less common names include CBM 64/CBM64, C= 64. It is also affectionately nicknamed the “breadbin” due to its shape.

The C64, together with the Commodore PET and VIC-20 were pioneering forays into the emergent personal computer industry, in a time characterized by many varieties of mostly incompatible machines. Introduced by Commodore Business Machines in August 1982 at the low price of US$595, it offered 64 kilobytes of RAM, with sound and graphics performance that compared favourably with later IBM compatible computers of that time. During the Commodore 64’s lifetime (between 1982 and 1993), sales totaled around 17 million units [1]. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Commodore 64 remains the best selling single computer model of all time.

I didn’t purchase mine till quite a lot later after its release, however by that time free games appeared on the magazines which allowed me to have quite a huge collection. It is certainly hard to think how we coped with just 64K of RAM when you consider the recently released Xbox 360 has 512MB worth.

SEGA Genesis (Mega Drive) and Master System

genesis.jpgNow this is the era that really caught my attention and has been the catalyst for my enthusiasm for gaming. With such amazing games and the graphics and sound were just mind blowing for the time. Games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Quackshot, Olympic Gold, Goldex Axe, Streets of Rage and so many more. Out of all the systems I have owned in the past, it is the games from this console I could still quite happily play today for hours on end. I also enjoyed the SEGA Master System, but the Mega Drive was by far the most fun. For some reason 2D graphics just don’t age like 3D!

The Sega Mega Drive was a 16-bit video game console released by Sega in Japan (1988), Europe (1990) and most of the rest of the world. It debuted under the name Sega Genesis in North America (1989), as Sega was unable to secure legal rights to the Mega Drive name in that territory.

The first name Sega considered for their console was the MK-1601, but they ultimately decided to call it the “Sega Mega Drive”. “Mega” had the connotation of superiority, and “Drive” had the connotation of speed and power. Sega used the name Mega Drive for the Japanese, European, Asian, Australian and Brazilian versions of the console. The U.S. version went by the name Genesis due to a trademark dispute, while the South Korean versions were called Super Gam*Boy (수퍼겜보이) and Super Aladdin Boy (transliterated from 수퍼알라딘보이; this was the Korean version of Mega Drive 2). The Korean-market consoles were licensed and distributed by Samsung Electronics.

The controller for me really made gaming more enjoyable. The buttons and D-pad seemed to be very well designed and much better for extended hours of play.

Vectrex

vectrex.jpgNot the most amazing system, but one worth remembering as I did in fact own one, in fact I still do although I think time has caught up with it and no longer seems to work (grab your violin).

The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console developed by General Consumer Electric (GCE) and later bought by Milton Bradley Company. The Vectrex is unique in that it utilized vector graphics drawn on a monitor that was integrated in the console; no other console before or after the Vectrex had a comparable configuration, and no other non-portable game console had a monitor of its own (integrated). It was released in late 1982 at a retail price of $199. As the video game market declined and then crashed, the Vectrex exited the market in early 1984.

The graphics consisted of numerous lines, which today look quite shocking, however the games were good enough to lose a few hours here and there. Having the screen, console and controller as one complete unit was quite novel as well.

Acorn Archimedes A3010

Luckily that lovely large chap, you know Santa Claus, gave me this one Christmas before I began comprehensive school to which the only computer they had were the very same Acorn machines. This meant I finished before everybody else in the I.T. classes. This then has its disadvantages as the teacher looked over at me sat twiddling my thumbs, so of course what could any teacher do but send me on errands, delivering messages and other tasks to pass time. Oh the joys…

In 1992, a new range was produced, using the ARM250 microcontroller, an ARM2 processor with integrated memory and video controllers, performing better thanks to an increase in clock frequency, and running RISC OS 3.10. The A30x0 series had a one-piece design, similar to the A3000 but far smaller, while the A4000 looked like a slightly slimmer A5000. The A3010 model was intended to be a home computing machine, featuring a TV modulator and joystick ports, while the A3020 targeted the home office and educational markets, featuring a built-in 2.5″ hard drive. Technically, the A4000 was almost identical to the A3020, only differing in memory and hard disk size, and, of course, looks.

RISC OS 3 was a great little Operating System and more importantly, unlike anything else, introduced me to the computer world of word processing, spreadsheets, databases, computer graphics and point and click adventures like Simon the Sorcerer on floppy disk. After using the Acorn, it was only a matter of time before I needed a proper personal computer though to keep up with the times.

SEGA Saturn

saturn.jpgAlthough this console pretty much died when the Sony Playstation came along, there were still some very strong titles on this console, SEGA Rally, Nights into Dreams, Virtua Fighter 1/2, Virtua Cop 2 and the Sonic Jam pack of all the classic Sonic games.

The Sega Saturn is a video game console of the 32-bit era. It was released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 1995 in North America and July 8, 1995 in Europe. Approximately 170,000 machines were sold the first day of the Japanese launch. 5,000 were sold in the weekend following the UK launch.

At one time, the Sega Saturn held second place in the console wars, placing it above Nintendo’s Super Famicom in Japan and Nintendo’s Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in North America and Europe, but the Saturn slowly lost market share to Sony’s PlayStation and, outside Japan, the cartridge-based Nintendo 64.

The Japanese Saturn was rushed to the market, just a few weeks ahead of its rival, Sony’s PlayStation. This led to very few games being available at launch.

I have always enjoyed the music in SEGA titles as they just seem to catch that magical feel that so many good games can lack musically. I still rate this console much higher than the PlayStation, however maybe my admiration for SEGA is just too much to let another contender in at this point.

SEGA Dreamcast

dreamcast.jpgThis was maybe the first time a console looked to PC gaming for inspiration and generally it worked very well. I loved the console to bits and in fact I know more people who own a SEGA Dreamcast now then when it was released. Seems that even though this console marked the end of SEGA’s console aspirations, the Dreamcast Console lives on in our hearts as a true gaming unit that inspired so much.

The Sega Dreamcast is Sega’s last video game console. An attempt to recapture the console market with a next-generation system, it was designed to supercede Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Nintendo 64, and although generally considered to be “ahead of its time” (literally fifteen months before the PlayStation 2 and three years before GameCube or Xbox) it failed to gather enough momentum before the release of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000. After the Dreamcast was discontinued, Sega had no other plans to release another console.

I remember the Dreamcast bery well for its accessories, such as the keyboard and mouse (which never quite worked for a console), online play and of course how small and dare I say… cute it looked.

Microsoft Xbox

xbox.jpgBy this point my faith in PC gaming had hit an all time low. I was just so fed up with the overall gaming environment, I ventured towards Microsoft’s Xbox for the solution and I was not disappointed in the slightest. It was the first console I pre-ordered as well. Halo certainly lived up to the hype and for the first time, you could actually control with satisfaction a first person shooter game! The original bulky controller on launch was fine, but when the controller-s came out, I soon switched.

The Microsoft Xbox is a sixth generation era video game console first released on November 15, 2001 in North America, then released on February 22, 2002 in Japan, and on March 14, 2002 in Europe. The Xbox was Microsoft’s first independent venture into the video game console arena, after having developed the operating system and development tools for the MSX, and having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console include Halo: Combat Evolved, Amped, Dead or Alive 3 and Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee.

Then the massive shock of all, the Xbox Live service. How this transformed gaming on consoles is unimaginable and although they were not the first, it soon was a massive success! Fav’ games include Halo, Dead or Alive 3, Top Spin, Midtown Madness 3 (online gaming only), Project Gotham Racing 2 and Halo 2.

Microsoft Xbox 360

HDDVD.jpgTaking everything they had learned from the original Xbox, Microsoft certainly has taken another great step forward with true integration of Xbox Live into every aspect of the consoles design proving yet again that not only is online the future for consoles, but today!

The new dashboard is just fantastic and the emphasis really is to have this console online! High Definition graphics are the main graphical improvement, however obviously you need a HDTV to enjoy the 720p, 1080i and 1080p resolutions available.

The Xbox 360 (pronounced three-sixty), known during development as the Xenon, Xbox 2, or the Xbox Next, is the successor to Microsoft’s original Xbox video game console. The Xbox 360 console was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the prominent Electronic Entertainment Expo. Upon its release on November 22, 2005 in North America, December 2 in Europe, and December 10 in Japan, the Xbox 360 became the first console to have a simultaneous launch across the three major regions.It also serves as the first entrant in a new generation of game consoles and will compete against the forthcoming PlayStation 3 and Wii.

Again I pre-ordered this one and just as well with all the shortages at launch. Fav’ games include Kameo, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, Vitua Tennis 3, Sega Rally among many others. I remember being really concerned about using wireless controllers, however Microsoft have not let us down at all.

Nintendo DS Lite

nintendodslite1.jpgI have never had the need or desire to own a portable handheld console, however having the opportunity to play both the Nintendo DS Lite and Sony PSP, I couldn’t help but feel a strong pull to purchase the DS Lite.

The Nintendo DS Lite (sometimes abbreviated NDSL/ DSL or DSLite) is a dual-screen handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It is a slimmer, more lightweight redesign of the earlier Nintendo DS model, aesthetically sleeker to compliment Nintendo’s upcoming Wii, and to appeal to broader commercial audiences. It was announced on January 26, 2006, more than a month before its first territorial launch in Japan on March 2, 2006 due to overwhelming demand for the original model.[6] It has been released in Japan, Australia, North America, and Europe.

It may not be as fast as the Sony PSP and the screen isn’t as big, but the Nintendo DS Lite makes up for it with amazing games, great graphics in 2D while including 3D elements (like the New Super Mario World and Sonic Rush) and the touch screen, which initially I thought might be just a gimmick, does actually add a lot to games that really support this feature.

Sony PlayStation

playstation1.jpgSo January 2007 marks the occasion when I purchase a Sony PlayStation (1) console. Yes I may have just gone slightly insane, but the fact of the matter is I wanted to play Tomb Raider again and as my love for PC gaming has totally gone out of the window, the PlayStation seemed a good way to go after never before owning a Sony console.

The Sony PlayStation is a video game console of the 32/64-bit era, first produced by Sony Computer Entertainment in the mid-1990s. The original PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of console and hand-held game devices, which has included successor machines including the Net Yaroze, PSone (a smaller version of the original), PocketStation, PlayStation 2, a revised, slimline PS2, PlayStation Portable, PSX (Japan only), and PlayStation 3. By March 2005, the PlayStation/PSone had shipped a total of over 100.49 million units, becoming the first home console to ever reach the 100 million mark.

So I am enjoying of course Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and even Colin McRae Rally. I doubt I will ever purchase another PlayStation from a later generation, so may as well go for something I have a lot of fondness for.

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)The Sony PlayStation Portable (better known as the Sony PSP) is quite a powerful hand held machine, although it lacks the same magnificent titles the Nintendo DS carries. The screen is impressively bright and rich although the image can drag a little.

The PlayStation Portable (officially abbreviated PSP) is a handheld game console released and manufactured by Sony Computer Entertainment. Its development was first announced during E3 2003, and it was officially unveiled on May 11, 2004 at a Sony press conference before E3 2004. The system was released in Japan on December 12, 2004, North America on March 24, 2005 and in the PAL region on September 1, 2005. It is the first handheld video game system to use an optical disc format (Universal Media Disc).

Surprisingly, Virtua Tennis 3 is my most played game so far. I may have completed it on the Xbox 360, but on the PSP it compares very well to its next generation counterpart.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo WiiIn February 2008, I finally decided it was time to purchase this latest console from Nintendo. I have been put off in the past due to the lack of high definition, but Nintendo are partly right at least, gameplay is the foundation of any game.

The Wii (pronounced as the English pronoun we, IPA: /wiː/) is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3,[3] but it competes with both as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.

A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect acceleration and orientation in three dimensions. Another is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.[4]

So far Mario Galaxy has to be one of the most amazing games I have played for a long time. Nintendo have a great heritage and indeed they always manage to rekindle the classics on their newer systems time and time again. Just a shame the third party titles often lag behind.

Sony PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3When Toshiba announced the demise of HD DVD, the decision to buy a Sony PlayStation 3 was a very simple one.

The PlayStation 3 (officially marketed PLAYSTATION 3,[5] commonly abbreviated PS3) is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.

A major feature that distinguishes the PlayStation 3 from its predecessors is its unified online gaming service, the PlayStation Network,[6] which contrasts with Sony’s former policy of relying on games’ developers for online play.[7] Other major features of the console include its robust multimedia capabilities,[8] connectivity with the PlayStation Portable,[9] and its use of a next-gen optical media, Blu-ray Disc, as its primary storage medium.[10]

Although you can see the extra power on certain exclusive titles, the overall software such as the XrossMediaBar (XMB), does the job well, but doesn’t go that extra mile to integrate into the actual games or movies. I am very happy with the PS3 as a Blu-ray playback device and some of the exclusive games are incredible, but for me the Xbox 360 is still my overall favourite console of them all.

Personal Computer (PC) History

I have owned many personal computers as well. Started my first true PC experience with a 486-66mHz DX-2 with dazzling specifications. OK that is a little lie, 4mb memory, 1mb graphics card, 420mb Hard Drive and DOS and Windows 3.1. Introduced me though to amazing games like Simon the Sorcerer (talkie version), Doom among many others.

After ringing PC World and them mistakenly telling me that I would need to buy a whole new computer as it was not possible to upgrade a computer of this type, I went out myself and learned the process, purchased the needed hardware and upgraded to a Pentium 133mHz with a Matrox Mystique graphics card, 64mb memory, 1.3gb Hard Drive. It was not long after this upgrade that I discovered the 3DFX 3D graphics accelerator, wow what a change that was! Happy days indeed.

After again upgrading to a Pentium 233mHz CPU, I then purchased two Voodoo 2’s in SLI mode which meant you could actually link them together. After that again buying the parts individually, even the case and monitor this time to create my own unique machine, AMD 1.2gHz, 396mb memory, nVidia Geforce 1 DDR, 40gb Hard Drive.

Then it was a Pentium 4 3.0gHz with Hyper Threading (HT), ATi Radeon 1950XT 512mb, Dual monitor LCD setup, 2048mb memory, 800GB Hard Drive capacity.

I am constantly updating my computers, most notably I now have an Apple 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display and a Q6600 Quad Core computer with a NVIDIA 580 GTX.

Quotations courtesy of Wikipedia