We’ll start things off with a prototype that most gamers have seen, but others, not so much: the Nintendo PlayStation. You read that right, development of the format started in 1988, when Nintendo signed a deal with Sony to produce a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. After several years of development, Sony introduced a standalone console at 1991’s summer Consumer Electronics Show called the “Play Station.” The system was to be compatible with existing SNES titles as well as titles released for the SNES-CD format. However, due to licensing disagreements with Sony, Nintendo announced that it had formed an alliance with Sony’s rival Philips to produce the SNES-CD add-on. Continue reading for more.
10. Game Boy Color
The Game Boy Color was a response to pressure from game developers for a new and much more sophisticated system of playing, as they felt that the Game Boy, even in its latest incarnation, the Game Boy Pocket, was insufficient. The resultant product was backward compatible, a first for a handheld system, and leveraged the large library of games and great installed base of the predecessor system. This became a major feature of the Game Boy line, since it allowed each new launch to begin with a significantly larger library than any of its competitors.
9. Motorola DynaTAC
Motorola had long produced mobile telephones for automobiles that were large and heavy and consumed too much power to allow their use without the automobile’s engine running. Mitchell’s team, which included Martin Cooper, developed portable cellular telephony, and Mitchell was among the Motorola employees granted a patent for this work in 1973; the first call on the prototype was completed, reportedly, to a wrong number.
8. Apple I
On March 5, 1975 Steve Wozniak attended the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in Gordon French’s garage. He was so inspired that he immediately set to work on what would become the Apple I computer. Wozniak calculated that laying out his design would cost $1,000 and parts would cost another $20 per computer; he hoped to recoup his costs if 50 people bought his design for $40 each. His friend Steve Jobs obtained an order from a local computer store for 100 computers at $500 each. To fulfill the $50,000 order, they obtained $20,000 in parts at 30 days net and delivered the finished product in 10 days.The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66, because Wozniak “liked repeating digits” and because of a one-third markup on the $500 wholesale price. About 200 units were produced and all but 25 were sold during nine or ten months.
7. Atari VCS
The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in September 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and ROM cartridges containing game code, a format first used with the Fairchild Channel F game console. This format contrasts with the older model of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware, which could only play the few games which are physically built in to the unit. The console was originally sold as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System.
6. Super Soaker
Super Soaker is a brand of recreational water gun that utilizes manually-pressurized air to shoot water with greater power, range, and accuracy than conventional squirt pistols. The Super Soaker was invented in 1982 by engineer Lonnie Johnson. The prototype combined PVC pipe, Plexiglass, and an empty plastic soda bottle. Originally sold by Larami and now produced by Hasbro under the Nerf brand, Super Soaker has generated more than $1 billion in total sales.
5. Push-button Telephone
Western Electric experimented as early as 1941 with methods of using mechanically activated reeds to produce two tones for each of the ten digits and by the late 1940s such technology was field-tested. But the technology proved unreliable and it was not until long after the invention of the transistor when push-button technology matured. On 18 November 1963 the Bell System in the United States officially introduced dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology under its registered Touch-Tone mark. Over the next few decades Touch-Tone service replaced traditional pulse dialing technology and it eventually became a world-wide standard for telecommunication signaling.
4. Nintendo Wii U
The system was first conceived in 2008, after Nintendo recognized several limitations and challenges with the Wii, such as the general public perception that the system catered primarily for a “casual” audience. With Wii U, Nintendo explicitly wishes to bring “core” gamers back. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the lack of HD and limited network infrastructure for Wii also contributed to the system being regarded in a separate class to its competitors’ systems, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was decided that a new console would have to be made to accommodate significant structural changes.
In 1998, four engineers from Microsoft’s DirectX team, Kevin Bachus, Seamus Blackley, Ted Hase and DirectX team leader Otto Berkes, disassembled some Dell laptop computers to construct a prototype Microsoft Windows-based video game console. The team hoped to create a console to compete with the Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 2, which was luring game developers away from the Windows platform. The team approached Ed Fries, the leader of Microsoft’s game publishing business at the time, and pitched their “DirectX Box” console based on the DirectX graphics technology developed by Berkes’ team. Fries decided to support the team’s idea of creating a Windows DirectX based console.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in a 1983 speech: “…that Apple’s strategy is really simple. What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.”
Business Insider reports that “…the prototype was designed by Hartmut Esslinger, who helped design the Apple II desktop PC. It’s pretty slick for a device from the early 80s, featuring a touchscreen and stylus input. On the screen, you can see a virtual check and an accounting app, so it looks like Apple wanted to design a hybrid phone/computer as early as 1983.”