This Nintendo Was Inside A Television Set

I don’t know what it is about old Nintendo hardware that makes it so interesting. Maybe it’s because, outside of Nintendo’s home run successes, there are a lot of straight-up strange devices in the company’s history as well.

Not weird in a bad way, mind you. Just in a “well, it’s awesome somebody thought this would be a good idea” kind of way. Take the C1 NES TV, for example.

Although not technically a purely Nintendo device – it was manufactured by Sharp as a joint venture – it’s whole point was the fact it included a Nintendo console, so it’s close enough.

The C1 NES TV – or My C1 Computer TV – was first released in Japan in 1983. It was as the picture above suggests: a television set with a Famicom built inside of it. The C1 was available in two sizes: a 19-inch model (which retailed for ¥145,000/USD$1700) and a 14-inch model (which retailed for ¥93,000/USD$1100).

Why put a console inside a TV? It was a marketing gimmick, sure, especially given the relatively small size of the TV sets, but there was a surprise benefit to the move: because the Famicom was connected directly to the screen, and not via old composite cables, it had a better picture quality than a standard NES did, which meant many games magazines bought one to take screenshots off.

The console was attached to the base of the TV, and featured a unique controller with its own connection port system that makes them both rare and expensive in today’s collectors market. Those fussy about their living room (or bedroom) décor could choose between two colours of the C1, a black + red model or a light silver + red model.

Perhaps to complement its extreme price tag, The C1 NES TV shipped with two in-built programs (JR GRAPHIC and TV NOTE, which you can see in the video to the left) and a special cartridge that contained a copy of both Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong Jr. Math.

Despite seeming to be the epitome of gadget-mad 80’s Japan, the C1 was released in the US in 1989 with a Nintendo Entertainment System slung underneath, where it was called the Sharp Nintendo Television. A year later in 1990, a “sequel” of sorts was released: the SF-1 SNES TV.

Another collaboration between Sharp and Nintendo, the SF-1 SNES TV included the more recent Super Nintendo System as opposed to the old NES/Famicom, and shipped with bigger screens, a 21-inch model and a 14-inch variant.

Retaining both its predecessor’s superior image quality and ridiculous price tag, the SF-1 never saw a release outside of Japan.

These TV sets may seem silly ideas now, especially at that kind of price, but no matter how impractical an entertainment solution you think it is, companies can’t seem to shake their fascination with it. In December 2010, for example, Sony released a TV set that had a PS2 built into it, proving that the lure of selling the TV and the console in the one box is as strong today as it was in 1983.

[pics courtesy of Famicom World]


Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

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