Nintendo Entertainment System

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The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is a video game console released in August 1985 (US) by Nintendo. Originally it shipped with two hand controllers and the Super Mario game; special packs also included and a Zapper light gun and the Duck Hunt game and/or a Power Pad floor controller.


In the wake of the Video Game Crash of 1983/84, many said the video game console industry was dead; Atari had killed it. But then came along the NES, whose sucess was a great shock. Originally, Nintendo had been negotiating with Atari to have the NES released under Atari's name; this was because of the inherently perilous conditions. But, as we know, negotiations fell threw and the Atari decided to concentrate on the Atari 7800. So, Nintendo took the big chance and released the NES in 1985.

Tech specs


  • CPU: Nintendo 2A03 8 bit processor based on MOS Technologies 6502 core, running at 1.79MHz, with four tone generators, a DAC, and a restricted DMA controller on-die
  • Main RAM: 2 KB
  • Palette: 48 colors and 5 grays in base palette; red, green, and blue guns can be individually darkened somewhat on a particular scanline
  • Onscreen colors: 25 colors per scanline (background color + 4 sets of 3 tile colors + 4 sets of 3 sprite colors)
  • Sprite sizes: 8x8 and 8x16 pixels
  • Maximum onscreen sprites: 64
  • Maximum number of sprite pixels on one scanline: 64, dropping out the lowest-priority sprites on overflow
  • Video memory: PPU contains 2 KB of tile and attribute RAM, 256 bytes of sprite position RAM, and 28 bytes of palette RAM (allowing for selection of background color); 8 KB of tile pattern ROM on cartridge (bankswitchable to up to 512 KB)
  • Scrolling layers: 1 per scanline
  • Resolution: Most games used 256x240 pixels; for additional video memory bandwidth.
  • Expansion port on the bottom right hand side used originally for the Famicom Disk System, but piracy concerns kept this device from being released in the US
  • 2 seven pin controller ports in the front of the machine

Publishers have released over 700 titles but no longer produce new commercial games. However, there is a strong independent community producing demos and games for the NES. (Learn more about the "NESdev" community here.)