Highlights for n00bs: Looking back on 40 years of gaming

Games, artifacts, memorabilia and accessories from video game history


James Martin

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Spacewar! creator Steve Russell
1 of 29 Scott Ard/CNET


Spacewar! is acknowledged as one of the first, if not the first, computer games. Creator Steve Russell stands by an operational PDP-1 (1960), the computer he used to create the game.

2 of 29 Scott Ard/CNET


The 'Pong' arcade game inventor Al Acorn also co-founded Atari with Nolan Bushnell in 1972.

3 of 29 Josh Miller/CNET

Odyssey 300 (1976)

Magnavox released the first-ever home console with 1972's Odyssey. This is the Odyssey 300, from 1976, which played three built-in games, all variants on Pong.

4 of 29 James Martin/CNET

Atari 2600 (1977)

This is the original 1977 Atari 2600, the machine that essentially launched the home console business. Note that before it was known as the 2600 (its part number), it had the ambitious moniker "video computer system."

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Atari Video Music System

The Atari Video Music System was a music visualization system. With RCA outputs from your stereo, the unit connected to a television and allowed for manipulation of the visuals using dials on the console. Basically, this was an audio waveform visualizer similar to the iTunes visualizer popular in the early 2000s. 

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Atari 2600 Test Console (circa 1977)

Atari sold these consoles to its dealers to provide a quick and easy way for Atari 2600 owners to test their joysticks and power supplies to see if they needed repair or replacement. It was the final stop before sending a console in for repair.

7 of 29 Josh Miller/CNET

Space Invaders (1978)

One of many arcade cabinet variations on Space Invaders, originally released in 1978.

8 of 29 Josh Miller/CNET

Atari Cosmos (1979)

The Atari Cosmos was a never-released handheld that was supposed to overlay two layers of holographic film for a 3D effect. Only a handful of mockup units and prototypes exist.

9 of 29 Josh Miller/CNET

Centipede (1981)

The Centipede arcade shooter was co-designed by Dona Bailey, one of the earliest female game designers.

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IBM PC (1981)

IBM's brand name recognition spurred fast growth of the personal computer market in homes in the early 1980's. 

11 of 29 Josh Miller/CNET

Arcadia 2001 (1982)

This 1982 early 8-bit console, called the Arcadia 2001, was made by Emerson, and featured a few knock-offs of popular games ("Breakaway" instead of Breakout, for example).

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Alien Chase (1982)

This dual-screen 1982 Alien Chase game from Tandy actually just used a mirror to show both players the same screen.

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Vectrex (1982)

The Vectrex was an all-in-one console with a built-in monochromatic display that displayed bright-line vector graphics.

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Burgertime (1983)

This handheld version of Burgertime was released in Japan and Singapore in 1983. A smaller version was common in the US.

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Intellivision Keyboard Component

This keyboard add-on promised to turn the Intellivision into a state-of-the-art early 80s PC and give it a leg up over other home consoles. Long delays meant only a few thousand were ever released to the public.

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Video Game Brain (1983)

This six-in-one game switcher declares: "Never waste time inserting or removing your video game cartridges again." What would they think about game loading times today?

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Sega Genesis (1989)

A Sega Genesis game console.

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Street Fighter, XL

A huge Street Fighter console at E3 2019.

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Nintendo Power

The first issue of the Nintendo's official magazine, which ran from 1988 to 2012, spotlighted Super Mario Bros. 2. It returned in 2017, as a podcast.

Nintendo Gameboy (1989)
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Nintendo Gameboy (1989)

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Nintendo Power Glove (1989)

The infamous glove controller for the NES console. Interestingly, some people are talking about bringing back glove-like controllers for today's VR headsets.

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Sony Playstation (1994)

Nintendo 64 controllers (1996)
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Nintendo 64 controllers (1996)

Variations on the innovative Nintendo 64 home console controller.

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Sega Dreamcast (1998)

Microsoft Xbox (2001)
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Microsoft Xbox (2001)

Microsoft Kinect (2010)
26 of 29 Microsoft

Microsoft Kinect (2010)

Microsoft Kinect is a hands-free, motion sensing control system.

Google Stadia
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Google Stadia (2019)

Google's cloud gaming platform, Stadia head Phil Harrison with the Stadia controller.

iPhone AR gaming (2018)
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iPhone AR gaming (2018)

Oculus Quest (2019)
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Oculus Quest (2019)

Facebook's standalone virtual reality headset, Oculus Quest.

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