By the time of 1976, video games pretty much meant Arcades – coin-operated entertainment machines. And even for the Arcades the best was still to come! The period of 1971-1977 was often called as the “Bronze and Silver age” and introduced popular games like: Galaxy (1971), Pong (1972), Astro Race (1973), Basketball (1974), Speed Race (1974) and Gun Fight (1975). First video game console (of the first generation video game consoles) was released on 1972: Magnavox Odyssey – a pong-style console, which was really really basic and did not yet feature microprocessor logic, cartridges, multi-screen playfields, sprite-based multi-color graphics! So it was more-less dots and blocks moving on a single black and white screen – very very basic! First generation video gaming saw a release of many similar and basic devices: Magnavox Odyssey Series (starting from 1975), TV Tennis by Epoch (1975), Home Pong by Atari (1975), TV Master by Binatone (1975), Coleco Telstar Series (starting from 1976) and Color TV-Game Series by Nintendo (a series of home consoles which were actually not yet released by 1976, they saw the light between 1977-1979). So lets get back into the year of 1976!
1976! The second generation of video games started in 1976 with the release of Fairchild Channel F and 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System home consoles. For the first time we got to see microprocessor-based game logic, game cartridges (allowing unlimited amount of more complex and different looking games for a console), single player games against the computer opponents, multiple flip-screen playfields, basic colors and simple blocky sprites. But it was just enough to make video gaming home devices attractive!
Most successful game developers on the Arcade market this year were Sega (Heavyweight Champ, Road Race/Moto-Cross/Man T.T.), Taito (Speed Race Twin) and Atari (Breakout, Night Driver). Exidy releases Death Race, which got banned in many areas because of the violence.
So much for the overview! In my next posts I will take a closer look to Fairchild Channel F and 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System (and its clones) home consoles. And I plan to finish the year 1976 with reviews of the best games on Arcade.