The Chronology Of Video Games

Most popular games since 1976

1976 — April 29, 2015

1976

1976

So lets get this thing going!

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 is often called as the “Bronze and Silver age” and introduced popular games like: Computer Space and Galaxy (1971), Pong (1972), Space Race and Gotcha (1973), Basketball, Tank,  Speed Race and Gran Trak 10 (1974) and Shark Jaws, Gun Fight and Indy 800 (1975).

First home console (of the first generation video game consoles) was released in 1972: Magnavox Odyssey – a pong-style console, which was really really basic and did not yet feature microprocessor logic, cartridges, multi-screen playfields or sprite-based multi-color graphics! So it was more-less dots and blocks moving on a single black and white screen – very very basic! Odyssey was followed by many other similar and basic devices (first generation home consoles): 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).

Almost nobody had home computers back then. Computer games were developed and passed around by programmers and technicians with access to computers, primarily at research institutions, universities and large companies. Some of the most popular computer games developed were: The Oregon Trail (1971), Hunt the Wumpus (1972), Empire (for PLATO system 1973), Maze War and Spasim (1974), Colossal Cave, Dnd, Moria and Panther (1975).

But lets get started with the year 1976!

1976! The second generation of video game home consoles started in 1976 with the release of Fairchild Channel F. By the end of the year, the second competitor arrived. Radofin also produced a console: 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System (which supposedly was not commercially distributed before 1978). 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 for the Arcade market in 1976 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 unfortunately got banned in many areas because of the extreme level of violence.

So much for the overview! In my next posts I will take a closer look at Fairchild Channel F and its games. I will come back to 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System (and its clones) home consoles around 1978. And I plan to finish the year 1976 with overviews of the best games on Arcades in 1976.

FAIRCHILD CHANNEL F — May 1, 2015

FAIRCHILD CHANNEL F

1280px-Fairchild-Channel-FThe Fairchild Channel F home video games console (launched as Video Entertainment System) was released by Fairchild Semiconductor in November 1976. The first of second generation was revolutionary in many ways. Most important to know, it was the first cartridge-based and also the first video games console to use a microprocessor! There is an interesting and detailed article about the birth of this console which I recommend to read for more information and that is why I am not going to rewrite it, you can easily access the article here: Fairchild

There is not much information available about the release dates of the cartridges, but it is known that the first 21 of them were released between 1976-1978 (by Fairchild) and last 5 around 1980 (after Zircon International had bought the rights to the console). There is also a homebrew Pac-Man-like game released on 2009 making the total number of known games to 27 (not including the built in games).

Around the year 1979 Zircon International bought the rights (as mentioned before) and released redesigned version of the console called: Channel F System II. Even though, Channel F was never really successful, mostly because of the Atari 2600 console released on the next year.

In my next post I will only write about Channel F games (worth to play) that were released between 1976-1978 (by Fairchild) and I will come back to the games released after 1980 (by Zircon) when the time is chronologically right.

It was really hard to find accurate information and if you find any of this information not correct, please let me know by sending me an email: predrulez@gmail.com

See you in my next post!

GAMES: FAIRCHILD CHANNEL F — May 2, 2015

GAMES: FAIRCHILD CHANNEL F

This is the selection of best games released on the Fairchild Channel F console between 1976-1978. Following games may offer you some fun even today!

Fairchild Channel F Video Cart 10 (1977)
FairchildChannelFcart10

Maze, Cat and Mouse

This cartridge contains various versions of Maze (Jailbreak, Blind-man’s-bluff, Trailblazer) – mostly fun for two players as you control a mice trying to be the first to escape the labyrinth and some versions of Cat & Mouse (Paranoia, Double Paranoia) – can be enjoyed by single player as you control a mouse trying to escape the labyrinth and avoid being eaten by the cat (controlled by cpu). A must cartridge for a Channel F owner!

Fairchild Channel F Video Cart 13 (1977)
FairchildChannelFcart13

Robot War, Torpedo Alley

This cartridge contains two games: Robot War – a (single/two player) game where you take control of the robot hunted by other robots, your mission is to lead them into the electrified force fields to survive and Torpedo Alley – a (fun for two players) game where you have to blast away the invading ships by shooting them from the bottom of the sea with torpedos. Maybe its not a must but still fun retro cartridge to add to your collection.

Fairchild Channel F Video Cart 14 (1977)
67430_front

Sonar Search

This cartridge has just one game, but this one is fun – its Sonar Search! It might take more than one play to understand the game, but once you get it, you will like it. Your mission in this game is to find and blow up enemy’s ships by listening the sound of your sonar (sound navigator). You can play this game alone or with your friend, the fun will never end! Must have for the retro gamer!

Fairchild Channel F Video Cart 16 (1978)
67510_front

Dodge-It

Dodge-It might not be the most advanced game, the game has really basic sound and graphics and the gameplay is simple, but it has some magic in it. Your mission is to avoid balls (dots) thrown by cpu and see how long you can make it. From time to time another ball (dot) will be added to make your life a bit harder. Its also fun to play this game with your friend to see, who will last longer.

ARCADE GAMES 1976 — May 6, 2015

ARCADE GAMES 1976

These are the best and most popular games released on Arcade Coin-Op Machines in 1976. The list may be incomplete. If you feel offended, write me.

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Breakout (developed and published by Atari)
There is a layer of bricks at the top of the screen and a ball bouncing around. In this game, the player controls a paddle. When the ball touches a brick, the ball bounces away and the brick is destroyed. The player has to defend the bottom of the screen and destroy the wall of bricks. Probably the most popular arcade game in 1976.

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Road Race (developed and published by Sega)
Road Race was also released as Moto-Cross, Man T.T. and Fonz. Is a racing video game that introduced pseudo-3D, forward scrolling and third-person graphics. The player has to go as fast as possible without going off the road or colliding with other racers on the screen.

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Death Race (developed and published by Exidy)
A controversial video game that got banned in many areas because of the violence! Based on film “Death Race 2000”. In the game, one or two players control an on-screen car. The object is to run down “gremlins” who are fleeing the vehicle. As the player hits them, they scream or squeal and are replaced on-screen by tombstones.

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Heavyweight Champ (developed and published by Sega)
Considered to be the first video game to feature hand-to-hand fighting. It is a boxing game viewed from a side-view perspective. It employed two boxing glove controllers, one for each player, which moved up and down for high and low punches, with an inward movement for striking. It used large monochrome sprite visuals for the graphics.

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F-1 (developed by Namco and published by Atari)
This game is the first and only projection game released by Atari. It also was the first game licensed from Namco by Atari. The player steers a car around a race track, trying to avoid all cars.

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Interceptor (developed and published by Taito)
A first-person combat flight simulator game. You are in charge of a jet fighter with an objective to destroy all the enemy jet fighters.

In my next post I will start with year 1977. See you in my next post!