A Visual History Of Consoles

Image: Shutterstock

If you ever want a quick primer through the history of gaming consoles, here's the fastest crash course you can get.

It's a quick infographic put together by the digital storefront Fanatical (formerly Bundle Stars). It starts from the release of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, and extends all the way to the release of the Nintendo Switch last year.

Because of the nature of the infographic, the summaries for each console are pretty short. But there's good nuggets of history throughout. It doesn't touch on the history of the PC too much, which underwent enough changes of hardware and platforms (through operating systems) that it's probably better served with an infographic of its own.

Image: Fanatical

If you ever have anyone who has a passing interest in how far consoles have come, the above is a neat little primer into gaming history. Out of curiosity: how many consoles on the list have you tried, and for the older gamers among us, how many have you owned?


    Alex, you’re quite honestly the only reason I still bother with this site. You post articles worth reading, unlike some of the trash coming from the US.

    I should just bookmark your author page.

      Really? Because whilst reading the above, I was struck by how generic it was written. It’s like the author was trying to emulate the safest bits of things they’d read previously read and mashed them into an article (which is very similar to an article on a rival site...).
      Where is their distinct writer’s voice?
      The most novel part of the article was use of the word “nugget”.

    ayyyye :) it only took the gaming site 2 hours to notice that lifehacker was posting better gaming content then them and then transplant it over here.

    Where's the Neo Geo console? Best system eva!!!!!!

      I'm a bit of a fence sitter with the neo geo AES. As it wasn't a true dedicated console as such. They literally put the arcade system in a different box.

    Where's my Vectrex! It was a bulky machine with an arcade-style joystick on a stretchy rubber cord. To get colour from the cartridge-based games (after you'd blown the dust out of course) you had to clip in game-specific coloured plastic screens. Scramble was king of that particular console, but 'Spike and Molly' and 'Fortress or Narzod' were also outstanding titles.

    My first was the TV-based Pong (I was born 5 years after its release) and then the Atari... I have happy memories of these... but I'm not at all nostalgic and have zero interest in ever playing any of these ever again.. super annoyed that I was born so early in game development history because it means I'll die sooner than I'd like to... GTA XV is likely to be amazing in full-VR!

    Okay, *deep breath*

    THE NINTENDO 64 DOES NOT HAVE A 64-BIT PROCESSOR. The R4300i has a 32-bit address space. Seriously the thing had *1MB* (expandable to 4MB) of RAM. 64-bits would have been overkill). What it does have is a system/memory bus that's 64-bits wide.

    For reasons nobody has ever understood, older console generations were named for the width, in bits, of their system/memory busses rather than the actual address length of their processors.

    The Dreamcast (and the PS2 and *especially the XBone and Gamecube*) also doesn't have a 128-bit processor because that would just be ludicrous.

    Imagine if we'd kept this naming convention up to the present day, we'd be referring to the PS4 Pro and XBoneX as 1024-bit consoles.

    Okay I'm done. Nothing further, your honour.

    do we not mention when everyone was playing wow?

    That first photo has THE joysticks.. Durable as tanks and easy to repair with bits of coke cans :D

    Check out the Nostalgia Box in Perth if you get a chance. A gaming museum with waaaay more consoles and information than this post, cool as it is. You can play the consoles too.


    You mention the yellow light of death but not the red ring of death somebody is a Xbox fan boy

    missing some big ones. wheres the 3DO, Atari ST, Amiga, sinclair, Atari linx, PSP...???

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