A Tribute To The Glory Of Wood-Panelled Video Game Consoles

A Tribute To The Glory Of Wood-Panelled Video Game Consoles

Like many other non-Americans, I’m not the greatest fan of American cars. Yet there’s one style that I will always remember fondly, and that’s the wood-panelled stationwagon.

A staple of the 70s and 80s (though invented much earlier), the idea to put enormous wood (or fake wood) panels down the side of a car was an attempt at…I really don’t know. It’s not classy, it’s not attractive, and it didn’t make the cars go faster. You don’t really see the fad taking off anywhere except North America. And that’s a damn shame.

Because it was so absurd that I love it. It’s also about the only reason I still love old video game consoles that did the exact same thing.

Yes, at the same time car manufacturers thought it was a good idea to put wood on a car, where it did not belong, video game companies were doing the same thing on the consoles of the 1970s and early 80s. It did not belong there either, perhaps even more so considering the “advanced” nature of the technology, but that contrast between cutting-edge and artificial old-timey goodness is what makes it so awesome.

In the gallery above you’ll find a selection of some of my favourite woodgrain consoles of the 1970s. I’m pretty sure none of them used actual wood, but that’s OK. The fact they look like they could sit comfortably in a commercial for cigarettes or a fine Scotch more than makes up for that.


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

Coleco Telstar Classic (1976)

Wonder Wizard 7702 (1976)

Fairchild Channel F(1976)

Atari 2600 (1977)

Coleco Telstar Arcade (1978)

Bally Professional Arcade (1978)

Mattel Intellivision (1980)


  • That “Coleco Telstar Classic” thing looks like an awesome Nipple Twiddler Training machine. Especially with the picture on the box.

  • This hearkens back to when tech was understood to need to fit into your house, and consequently was designed like furniture. It would be nice if that trend picked up again, I would love it if my tech looked more like furniture than office equipment.
    On a personal rant, I wish people would call the original Atari Woody the VCS and not the 2600.

  • Please be advised, the Channel F image is being used in violation of it’s license. “This photo is free to use as long as credits to Martin Goldberg and/or Electronic Entertainment Museum (E2M), are maintained.”

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