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This Day in History 7/15/1983: Nintendo “Family Computer” Launches in Japan


30 years ago today, the world of video gaming would be changed forever with the Japanese launch of the Nintendo Famicom, later known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in other parts of the world.

The Nintendo Family Computer launched in Japan on July 15th, 1983. Two years later, with a different design, it would debut in America as the Nintendo Entertainment System.

30 years ago today, the world of video gaming would be changed forever with the Japanese launch of the Nintendo Famicom, later known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in other parts of the world.

In the early 1980s, Nintendo ventured in the world of gaming through the arcades with games like Donkey Kong and the handheld market with the small Game & Watch games. Later they turned their attention to the home gaming market, which was dominated by American companies like Atari and Mattel at the time.

The development of the Family Computer originally had such accessories as a keyboard and floppy disk drive, but those were taken out to reduce costs.

On July 15, 1983, the Nintendo Family Computer launched in Japan. It launched with ports of three successful arcade titles. It looked much different than most Americans know the first Nintendo console.

It had a red-and-white color scheme, and it’s controllers were hardwired into the console. The original production line ran into a technical difficulty, which led to large recall. Despite the set-back, the system sold well.

All this time, Nintendo had its eye on the American market. Amazingly enough, they were close to having the Famicom be distributed by then-gaming-giant Atari. But, a disagreement led to that falling through. Later financial difficulties prevented Atari from following up on the deal.

In 1984, Nintendo marketed the American version as more of a computer system with a keyboard, joystick and even wireless controllers. This “Nintendo Advanced Video System” received a cold reception.

Nintendo re-designed the console the next year as the Nintendo Entertainment System, with its now-ubiquitous grey box design. The first version was packaged with the R.O.B (Robot Operating Buddy) to attract retailers weary of selling video game consoles.

In October of 1985, the N.E.S. was released in the US. It launched with now famous games such as Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, Excitebite and others. It would go on to be successful for nearly a decade and for starting many game franchises that still exist to this to day.

In the present day, many classic Nintendo games can be purchased digitally for both the current Nintendo home consoles (Wii & WiiU) and handheld (3DS).


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