The Mega CD 2 first hit the Japanese stores on 23rd April 1993 as an addition to the Sega Mega Drive. While the unit looks much cheaper than the original Mega CD it doesn’t feel as cheap with the casing feeling much more solid than it’s predecessor. The motorized front try has been replaced with a much cheaper and i think a much more reliable flip top.
This is a path that many manufacturers began to take such as Philips with the CD-i, Panasonic with the 3DO (FZ-10) and many others whom followed. This enabled the front panels access lights being to be removed except for the power light which was also a much needed cost cutting measure for many companies.
I personally felt that Sega also went down a similar path to that of the Philips with the CD-i, within its game play, many aspects were similar to games such as ‘Dragons Lair‘. Most games gave you select options during game play and prompted you to take a certain path in order for you to advance further during the game. This proves quite difficult with the timing of your actions having to be very precise.
The BBC Microcomputer was released to us in the UK in the late 1981. During is lifespan it was given the nick-name the ‘Beeb’ which was used mainly by its uses but it was easily recognizable by its small ‘Owl’ logo.
The Acorn Proton was a pre-existing project at Acorn to succeed the Atom home computer. It was then submitted for, and won, the Literacy Project tender for a computer to accompany the TV programs and literature. Renamed the BBC Micro, the platform was chosen by most schools and became a cornerstone of computing in British education in the 1980s, changing Acorn’s fortunes. It was also moderately successful as a home computer in the United Kingdom despite its high cost. The machine was directly involved in the development of the ARM architecture which sees widespread use in embedded systems as of 2009.
The success of the machine in the UK was largely due to its acceptance as an “educational” computer – the vast majority of UK schools used BBC Micros to teach computer literacy and information technology skills. I can remember using these machines at school in my class ‘computer studies’ creating short programs as the basic was quite easy to use. I wonder if anyone remembers the BBC’s version of Ceefax/Teletext that was called Prestel lol.
The Toshiba MSX was first announced on the 27th of June 1983. It was then that the MSX standard was formally announced during a press-conference and when large Japanese firms declared their plans to introduce these machines.
Inspired by the success of VHS as a standard for video cassette recorders the name MSX was to standardized home computer architecture in a similar way. This was conceived by Kazuhiko Nishi in the 1980s, then Vice-president at Microsoft Japan and Director at ASCII Corporation.
Despite Microsoft’s involvement, MSX-based machines were seldom seen in the United States and Britain (although heavily advertised by Toshiba in the UK). At the time, most people seemed to agree MSX meant ‘MicroSoft eXtended’, referring to the built-in “Microsoft eXtended BASIC” (MSX-BASIC)
Nishi’s standard consisted primarily of several off-the-shelf parts; the main CPU was a 3.58 MHz Zilog Z80, the graphics chip a Texas Instruments TMS9918 with 16 KB (KiB) of dedicated VRAM, the sound and partial I/O support was provided by the AY-3-8910 chip manufactured by General Instrument (GI), and an Intel 8255 Programmable Peripheral Interface chip was used for the parallel I/O such as the keyboard.
Sinclair Research was a company founded by Clive Sinclair from cambridge in 1980 when he released the first of his computers the ZX80. It was later in life that due to clives great achievements for inventing computers and machines like the sinclair C5 that Clive Sinclair earned himself a Knighthood for “Services to British Industry” it was then that he became Sir Clive Sinclair.
Over a period of time the ZX Spectrum was released in eight different models, ranging from the entry level model that had 16 KB RAM to the ZX Spectrum +3 with 128 KB RAM and built in floppy disk drive that was released in 1987.
During development, the sinclair spectrum was referred to as the ZX81 colour and also the ZX82 but i remember it i think like most users as a ‘Speccy‘. The word Spectrum was used to highlight the range of colour’s it could display as shown with a band of colours like that of a rainbow displayed on the bottom right hand side of the spectrums case.
The Videosport MKII games console was an early PONG style games machine made from 1974 to 1977 by ‘Henry’s‘ who was a British retailer of televisions and Hi-Fi’s. Two versions of this console was made, the first being the more rarer version that had gold lettering and later version did not, i believe this was done purely as a cost cutting measure.
The Videosport MKII could be purchased via local retail stores of the 70′s and also via mail order, a little bit like the Sinclair ZX81.
What shines through and gives you a good feel for the age of the Videosport MKII is the good old British design and build quality. The console was powered solely by the mains as it did not support batteries and when these consoles were made i believe they were assembled by hand. The unit itself was glued together rather than using any kind of screw fixing like most modern consoles today. This does make for a stronger unit but also makes any repairs very difficult.
In 1979 Mattel Electronics released its first video gaming console, the Intellivision. Mattel Electronics was a subsidiary of Mattel and was formed expressly for the development of electronic games. In its first year Mattel sold 175,000 Intellivision consoles and the library grew from a mere 4 game cartridges which the console was initially released with and to 35 cartridges. Throughout its lifespan however over 3 million Intellivision units were sold and a approximatly 125 games cartridges were released for the console.
One little fact is that the word ‘Intellivision’ is a portmanteau of ‘Intelligent Television‘.
Like Atari, Mattel marketed their console to a number of retailers as a re-badged unit. These models include Radio Shack TandyVision, the GTE-Sylvania Intellivision, and the Sears Super Video Arcade. The Sears model was a specific coup for Mattel, as Sears was already selling a re-badged Atari 2600 unit, and in doing so made a big contribution to Atari’s success.
The Sega Saturn was a 32-bit CD based video gaming console that graced our stores on 8th of July 1995 priced at $399.99 and was to be in direct competition with the likes of Sony’s Playstation and the Nintendo 64.
To sum up the Sega Saturn to me is like comparing playing Virtua Fighter to playing Tekken on Sony’s Playstation. With Virtua Fighter the game is fairly bland, minimal background with blocky characters where as the playstation was fast with nice backdrops and much better rendering to the characters.
Unfortunately the Sega Saturn was not one of Sega’s best consoles and with the commercial failure caused Sega to lose US $267.9 million and lay off 30% of its workforce.
Despite this, by the time of the PlayStation’s release on September 9, 1995, the Saturn had sold approximately 80,000 systems. The PlayStation sold over 100,000 units upon release in the U.S., and Sega’s dreams of early domination of the new generation of hardware were quickly drowned although in an artical in July 2007 by GamePro, the Saturn was known to have sold over 9.5 million units worldwide so it did quite well in my estimation.
The Amstrad GX4000 is a third generation cartridge based console that was released in 1990. The GX4000 was Amstrad’s only attempt at a cartridge based games system for the console market. The system retailed at 99 GBP and included the game cartridge ‘Burning Rubber‘.
Basically the Amstrad GX4000 was nothing more than a modified Amstrad CPC6128 plus that allowed the GX4000 to be compatible with the still popular CPC technology.
Only 25 games were ever made for the Amstrad GX4000 and these are becoming pretty rare. Major companies such as U.S. Gold and Ocean supplied a majority of the games for the GX4000 such as RoboCop 2, Pang, Plotting (AKA Flipull), Navy Seals and Switchblade.
The problem with the GX4000 was that although the cartridges were fully compatiable with Amstrad’s new 464 and 6128 plus computers, with the cartridges were priced too high at 25 quid i think this played a major part in the downfall of the console and the main reason why the system unfortunately failed.
I can remember only a couple of years ago on E-bay these consoles boxed and in good condition selling between 10 and 20 quid in quite larger numbers, they are now getting rarer and they are now costing between 30 to 100 quid for a good one. . .
The Commodore Amiga 500 was a fantastic 16-bit computer that was just one from a large family of Amiga computers. The Amiga 500 reached us in 1985 and basically was a cheaper version of the A1000 (the A1000 being Commodores first Amiga to be released) that was aimed at the home market. Eventually the 500 became the leading home computer of the late 80′s. Its code name was actually ‘Rock Lobster’.
The Amiga 500 was an important platform for games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Of all the 16-bit home computers, the Amiga 500 was the one to gain the greatest success as a games machine due to its graphic and sound subsystems, which were widely considered to be far ahead of their time. A game made for the Amiga platform generally had much better sound and graphics than for example the same game running on an IBM PC, and it was also a more powerful machine than its nearest rival, the Atari ST. I can remember being very impressed with the Amiga 500s power when they were first released and i still regularly use it to playing fantastic retro games such as Zool, James Pond II,Pinball Dreams, Turrican II, R-Type, Jumpin Jackson (which has a sound track similar to the Rolling Stones song ‘Jumpin Jack Flash‘) and many others. A personal favorite of mine was Shadow of the Beast II with the ending sequence that could have been taken from a film, something like maybe Miami Vice for example. . .
The Nintendo Entertainment System or NES as it was also known was a cartridge based console that graced our stores in 1985. Later the NES was released in the US where its name was changed to Famicom (Family Computer) as Nintendo though it would suit the market better in the US.
The NES system was welcomed by many as it helped revive the market after the video gaming crash of 1983. The system was to also set the standard for subsequent game consoles, from hand control layout through to game design. The NES was quite powerful featuring a custom made 8-bit 6502 processor and a Picture Processing Unit (PPU). What helped was that these were developed and manufactured at low cost by a company called Ricoh.
Having an available colour palette of 48 colors and 5 grays. Red, green and blue could be individually darkened at specific screen regions using carefully timed code. Up to 24 colors could be used on one scan line: a background color, four sets of three tile colors and four sets of three sprite colors.