Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released by Nintendo under the name Family Computer (or Famicom) in 1983. It was later released in North America in 1985, Europe in 1986, and Australia in 1987.
Though the system’s North American release was met with scepticism, it was the best-selling console in its generation, breathing life into the stale market after the video game crash of 1983. Nintendo devised a new business model for this console, licensing third-party companies to create and distribute titles for their platform for two years. The console was originally intended to be a computer system with a keyboard and floppy disk drive. However, Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi thought these features would be intimidating to those more unfamiliar with the developing technology. Therefore, Nintendo designed a cheaper, 8-bit cartridge-based console.
Taking inspiration from a billboard ad, Yamauchi proposed the console be colored with its classic red and white theme. Designer Masayuki Uemura installed the eject level on the cartridge slot, not because it was necessary, but because he felt children would have fun playing with it.
To combat the public dissatisfaction of video games and consoles that partly led to the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo clearly defined their technological qualities and devised meticulous licensing and approval policies. They also decided to refer to their console as an “Entertainment System” versus a video game system, and called their cartridges “Game Paks” instead of video games. A few accessories were designed for the NES, including the light gun and the Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.).
With the dawn of the 1990s, competitors such as the Sega Master System began chipping away at the NES’s control of the market, and the console was eventually eclipsed by Nintendo’s own Super Nintendo Entertainment System.