A video game console is a dedicated electronic device designed to play video games. Often the output device is a separate television. Once, video game consoles were easily distinguishable from personal computers: consoles used a standard television for display, and did not support standard PC accessories such as keyboards or modems. However, as consoles have become more powerful, the distinction has blurred: some consoles can have have full Linux OS's running with hard drives and keyboards, and Microsoft's Xbox is basically a stripped down PC running a version of Microsoft Windows.
The console market has steadily developed from simple one-off games (Pong) to fully featured general purpose games systems.
Older game consoles and their software now live on in emulators as they are no longer supported by their manufacturers; however, console makers try to prevent legitimate console and software buyers from playing games on emulators, using a special mask work copyright and a special copyright on encrypted media created by the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act and foreign counterparts.
Note that the "bit" names of generations were in large part created by the console makers' marketing departments and may have little to do with the actual architecture of the systems.
Future systems (as of November 2001)
Current systems (as of November 2001)
Second "32-bit" generation
First "32-bit" generation
- TurboGrafx 16 or PC-Engine (1987-1989)
- Sega Genesis (1989)
- Neo-Geo (1989)
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Super-Famicom (1985-1991)
- Phillips CD-I
Third "8-bit" generation
Second "8-bit" generation
This generation was followed by a collapse in the video game market (1984).
- Intellivision (1980)
- Colecovision (1982)
- Philips_G7400 (1983) (This was to be released in the USA as the Odyssey 3, but changing market conditions prevented this from occuring.)
- Arcadia 2001 (1982)
First generation of "8-bit" programmable systems
First generation home video games (non-programmable)
Consoles of this era were often inaccurately called "analog" but actually used discrete logic.
- Several Odyssey consoles
- Several Pong consoles
The First commercial home video game ever
The Odyssey1 - discrete logic
Consoles that never made it
See hand held consoles which have their own display device.