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Nintendo Famicom/NES

The Jewel in Nintendo's crown. Back in the early 80's Nintendo sat down and started work on designing a new console that would be both cheap and powerful.  The brains of the console would be a custom 6502 processor along with a Picture Processing Unit (PPU), which would complement it.  They managed to strike a deal with a company called Ricoh to produce chips at a cheap price, but with the promise that they would go ahead with a 3 million chip order.

The system was released in Japan in 1983 under the name Famicom (Family Computer) and sold very well.  Nintendo made several efforts to partner up with companies such as Atari in order to market and distribute the console in the US, however, because of the video game industry crash of 1984 companies were still wary and doubtful.  Nintendo ended up going it alone.

In order to get retailers to stock the NES, Nintendo agreed to buy back all unsold units.  They changed its name from Famicom to Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) so that it would be more appealing to the American market.  They would promote the system as an entertainment device as opposed to a toy that plays games.

The NES was released in the US in 1986 and came in two sets: An Arcade set, which included the game Super Mario Bros., and a Deluxe set, which included R.O.B. the robot, a zapper gun and 3 bundled games.  The emergence of competitors such as Sega and Atari didn't worry Nintendo, especially since they had a 90% grasp over market share by 1987 and continued going from strength to strength.  Sega's 16-bit Mega Drive introduced in 1989 also failed to outsell the NES.  In fact, the main reason Nintendo didn't jump on the bandwagon and release a 16-bit console was because the NES was doing so well.

Super Mario Bros. managed to sell over 40 million copies worldwide and Super Mario Bros. 3 became the most popular game around when it was released in 1990.

In 1993, and after the release of the SNES, Nintendo released a new top-loading version of the NES also known as the "dogbone" version because of the shape of its controllers.  It was meant to get over problems caused by front-loading devices such as blinking.

The NES Arcade set retailed for $199 and the Deluxe set retailed for $249.  Over 70 million units were sold worldwide!

Technical Specs:

CPU: 8-bit 6502 NMOS (1.79MHz)
RAM: 2KB (16Kb), 2KB Video RAM
Colors: 52 (24 on screen)
Sprites: 64
Sprite Size: 8x16 pixels
Resolution: 256x240 pixels
Sound: PSG audio


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