|Part of a series on the|
|History of video games|
In the history of video games, the second-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld video game consoles available from 1976 to 1992. Notable platforms of the second generation include the Fairchild Channel F, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Odyssey², and ColecoVision. The generation began in November 1976 with the release of the Fairchild Channel F.This was followed by the Atari 2600 in 1977, Magnavox Odyssey² in 1978, Intellivision in 1980 and then the Emerson Arcadia 2001, ColecoVision, Atari 5200, and Vectrex, all in 1982. By the end of the era, there were over 15 different consoles. It coincided with, and was partly fueled by, the golden age of arcade video games. This peak era of popularity and innovation for the medium resulted in many games for second generation home consoles being ports of arcade games. Space Invaders , the first arcade game to be ported, was released in 1980 for the Atari 2600. Coleco packaged Nintendo's Donkey Kong with the ColecoVision when it was released on August 1982.
Built-in games, like those from the first generation, saw limited use during this era. Though the first generation Magnavox Odyssey had put games on cartridge-like circuit cards, the games had limited functionality and required TV screen overlays and other accessories to be fully functional. More advanced cartridges, which contained the entire game experience, were developed by Jerry Lawson for the Fairchild Channel F, and most video game systems soon adopted similar technology.The first system of the generation and some others, such as the RCA Studio II, still came with built-in games while also having the capability of utilizing cartridges. The popularity of game cartridges grew after the release of the Atari 2600. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, most home video game systems used cartridges until the technology was replaced by optical discs. The Fairchild Channel F was also the first console to use a microprocessor, which was the driving technology that allowed the consoles to use cartridges. Other technology such as screen resolution, color graphics, audio, and AI simulation was also improved during this era. The generation also saw the first hand-held game cartridge system, the Microvision, which was released by toy company Milton Bradley in 1979.
In 1979, gaming giant Activision was created by former Atari programmersand was the first third-party developer of video games. By 1982, the shelf capacity of toy stores was overflowing with an overabundance of consoles, over-hyped game releases, and low-quality games from new third-party developers. An over-saturation of consoles and games, coupled with poor knowledge of the market, saw the video game industry crash in 1983 and marked the start of the next generation. Beginning in December 1982 and stretching through all of 1984, the crash of 1983 caused major disruption to the North American market. Some developers collapsed and almost no new games were released in 1984. The market did not fully recover until the third generation. The second generation officially ended on January 1, 1992, with the discontinuation of the Atari 2600.
The Fairchild Channel F, also known early in its life as the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), was released by Fairchild Semiconductor in November 1976 and was the first console of the second generation.It was the world's first CPU-based video game console, introducing the cartridge-based game code storage format. The console featured a pause button that allowed players to freeze a game. This allowed them to a break without the need to reset or turn off the console so they did not lose their current game progress. Fairchild released twenty-six different cartridges for the system, with up to four games being on each cartridge. The console came with two pre-installed games, Hockey and Tennis.
In 1977, Atari released its CPU-based console called the Video Computer System (VCS), later called the Atari 2600.Nine games were designed and released for the holiday season. Atari held exclusive rights to most of the popular arcade game conversions of the day. They used this key segment to support their older hardware in the market. This game advantage and the difference in price between the machines meant that each year, Atari sold more units than Intellivision, lengthening its lead despite inferior graphics. The Atari 2600 went onto to sell over 30 million units over its lifetime, considerably more than any other console of the second generation. In 1982, Atari released the Atari 5200 in an attempt to compete with the Intellivision. While superior to the 2600, poor sales and lack of new games meant Atari only supported it for two years before it was discontinued.
Early Atari 2600 cartridges contained 2 kilobytes of read-only storage. This limit grew steadily from 1978 to 1983: up to 16 kilobytes for Atari 5200 cartridges. Bank switching , a technique that allowed two different parts of the program to use the same memory addresses, was required for the larger cartridges to work. The Atari 2600 cartridges got as large as 32 kilobytes through this technique.The Atari 2600 had only 128 bytes of RAM available in the console. A few late game cartridges contained a combined RAM/ROM chip, thus adding another 256 bytes of RAM inside the cartridge itself. The Atari standard joystick was a digital controller with a single fire button released in 1977.
The Bally Astrocade was released in 1977 and was available only through mail order.It was originally referred to as the Bally Home Library Computer. Delays in the production meant that none of the units shipped until 1978. By this time, the machine had been renamed the Bally Professional Arcade. In this form, it sold mostly at computer stores and had little retail exposure, unlike the Atari VCS. The rights to the console were sold to Astrovision in 1981. They re-released the unit with the BASIC cartridge included for free; this system was known as the Bally Computer System. When Astrovision changed their name to Astrocade in 1982 they also changed the name of the console to the Astrocade to follow suit. It sold under this name until the video game crash of 1983 when it was discontinued.
In 1978, Magnavox released its microprocessor-based console, the Odyssey 2, in the United States and Canada.It was distributed by Philips Electronics in the European market and was released as the Philips G7000. A defining feature of the system was the speech synthesis unit add-on which enhanced music, sound effects and speech capabilities. The Odyssey² was also known for its fusion of board and video games. Some titles would come with a game board and pieces which players had to use in conjunction to play the game. Although the Odyssey² never became as popular as the Atari consoles, it sold 2 million units throughout its lifetime. This made it the third best selling console of the generation. It was discontinued in 1984.
The Intellivision was introduced by Mattel to test markets in 1979and nationally in 1980. The Intellivision console contained a 16-bit processor with 16-bit registers and 16-bit system RAM. This was long before the "16-bit era". Programs were however stored on 10-bit ROM. It also featured an advanced sound chip that could deliver output through three distinct sound channels. The Intellivision was the first console with a thumb-pad directional controller and tile-based playfields with smooth, multi-directional scrolling. The system's initial production run sold out shortly after its national launch in 1980. Early cartridges were 4 kilobyte ROMs, which grew to 24 kilobytes for later games.
The Intellivision introduced several new features to the second generation. It was the first home console to use a 16-bit microprocessor and offer downloadable content through the PlayCable service.It also provided real-time human voices during gameplay. It was the first console to pose a serious threat to Atari's dominance. A series of TV advertisements featuring George Plimpton were run. They used side-by-side game comparisons to show the improved graphics and sound compared with those of the Atari 2600. It sold over 3 million units before being discontinued in 1990.
The Vectrex was released in 1982. It was unique among home systems of the time in featuring vector graphics and its own self-contained display.At the time, many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays. Through a licensing deal with Cinematronics, GCE was able to produce high-quality versions of arcade games such as Space Wars and Armor Attack. Despite a strong library of games and good reviews, the Vectrex was ultimately a commercial failure. It was on the market for less than 2 years.
|Name||Fairchild Channel F|| Atari VCS/2600|
Sears Video Arcade
|Bally Astrocade||Magnavox Odyssey²||Intellivision|
|Manufacturer||Fairchild Semiconductor||Atari||Bally Technologies||Magnavox||Mattel|
|Launch prices||US$169.95 (equivalent to $760in 2019)||US$199 (equivalent to $840in 2019)||US$299 (equivalent to $1,260in 2019)||US$200 (equivalent to $780in 2019) |
JP¥49,800 (equivalent to ¥ 75,900in 2019)
|US$299 (equivalent to $930in 2019)|
|Media||Cartridge||Cartridge and Cassette (Cassette available via special 3rd party attachment)||Cartridge and cassette/Floppy, available with ZGRASS unit||Cartridge||Cartridge|
|Top-selling games||Videocart-17: Pinball Challenge||Pac-Man , 7 million (as of September 1, 2006)||N/A||N/A||:Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack 1.939 million|
Major League Baseball 1.085 million (as of June 1983)
|Backward compatibility||N/A||N/A||N/A||None||Atari 2600 games through the System Changer module|
|CPU||1.79 MHz (PAL 2.00 MHz) Fairchild F8||1.19 MHz MOS Technology 6507||1.789 MHz Zilog Z80||1.79 MHz Intel 8048 8-bit microcontroller||894.886 kHz General Instrument CP1610|
|Memory||Main RAM 64 bytes |
Video RAM 2 kB (2×128×64 bits)
|128 bytes RAM within MOS Technology RIOT chip (additional RAM may be included in game cartridges)||Main RAM 4 kB (up to 64 kB with external modules in the expansion port)||CPU-internal RAM: 64 bytes|
Audio/video RAM: 128 bytes
|Main RAM 524 bytes |
Video RAM 932 bytes
160x96 (20x12 tiles of 8x8 pixels)
128 colors (NTSC)
32 colors (8 intensities)
16 colors (fixed); sprites use 8 colors
|Colors on Screen|
8 simultaneous (maximum of 4 per scanline)
128 simultaneous (2 background colors and 2 sprite colors (1 color per sprite) per scanline)
2 sprites, 2 missiles, and 1 ball per scanline
Unlimited (software controlled)
8 sprites, 8x16 half-pixels
|Other||Smooth multi-directional hardware scrolling|
|Audio||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: |
|Name||Emerson Arcadia 2001||ColecoVision||Atari 5200||Vectrex|
|Manufacturer||Emerson Radio Corporation||Coleco||Atari||General Consumer Electric and Milton Bradley|
|Launch prices||US$200 (equivalent to $530in 2019) |
JP¥19,800 (equivalent to ¥ 24,600in 2019)
|US$175 (equivalent to $460in 2019)||US$270 (equivalent to $720in 2019)||US$199 (equivalent to $530in 2019)|
|Media||Cartridge||Cartridge and Cassette, available with Expansion #3||Cartridge||Cartridge|
|Top-selling games||N/A||Donkey Kong (pack-in)||N/A||N/A|
|Backward compatibility||N/A||Compatible with Atari 2600 Via Expansion #1||Atari 2600 games through the 2600 cartridge adapter||N/A|
|CPU||3.58 MHz Signetics 2650 CPU||3.58 MHz Zilog Z80A||1.79 MHz Custom MOS 6502C||1.5 MHz Motorola 68A09|
|Memory||512 bytes RAM||Main RAM 1 kB|
Video RAM 16 kB
|Main RAM 16 kB DRAM||Main RAM 1 kB|
128x208 / 128×104
15 colors, 1 transparent
2 (black and white)
|Colors on Screen|
16 simultaneous (1 color per sprite)
2 simultaneous (black and white)
32 sprites (4 per scanline), 8×8 or 8×16 pixels, integer zoom
8 single-color sprites, full height of display; 1/2/4x width scaling
Tilemap playfield, 8×8 tiles
Built in vector CRT
|Audio||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio with: ||Mono audio (built-in speaker) |
The best-selling console of the second generation was the Atari 2600 at 30 million units.As of 1990, the Intellivision had sold 3 million units. This is around 1 million higher than the Odyssey² and ColecoVision sales and eight times the number of purchases for the Fairchild Channel F, which was 250,000 units.
|Console||Units sold worldwide|
|Fairchild Channel F||0.25 million (as of February 12, 2012)|
|Atari 2600||30 million (as of 2004)|
|Magnavox Odyssey²||2 million (as of 2005)|
|Intellivision||3 million (as of 2004)|
|ColecoVision||2 million (as of 1983)|
|Atari 5200||1 million (as of 1984)|
|Emerson Arcadia 2001||Unknown|
The Microvision, manufactured and sold by Milton-Bradley. was released in 1979.It was the first handheld game console that used cartridges that could be swapped out and that contained their own processor as the console itself had no on-board processor. It had a small game library which was prone to damage from static electricity and the LCD screen could also rot. These two factors contributed to its discontinuation two years after release.
Entex released two handheld systems in the second generation, the Select-A-Game and the Adventure Vision. There were 6 games available for the Select-A-Game but it was only available for a year until focus shifted to the Adventure Vision which was released in the following year.
The Adventure Vision was released only in North America in 1982 by Entex and was the successor to the Select-A-Game.It was unique among the consoles as it used a spinning mirror system for its built-in display and had to be used set down on a surface due to its size and shape. It was discontinued one year later in 1983 after selling just over fifty thousand units.
Developed and manufactured by Palmtex, the Super Micro was released in 1984 and discontinued later that year. Due to financial problems between Palmtex and Home Computer Software, only 3 games were released for the system despite more being planned. It was criticized for its poor build quality and how easily it would break and went on to sell less than 37,000 units.
The Epoch Game Pocket Computer was released in Japan in 1984.Due to poor sales, only five games were made for it and was not released outside of Japan.
The Game & Watch was a series of 60 handheld consoles that contained a single game in each release. The first, titled "Ball" was released in 1980 and titles were released up until it was discontinued in 1991.Unlike the other handheld consoles in the second generation, the Game & Watch had a segmented LCD screen similar to a digital watch which limited the display to the configuration of the segments. The series sold a combined 43.4 million units making it the most popular handheld of the generation.
|Console||Microvision||Entex Select-A-Game||Adventure Vision|
|Manufacturer||Milton Bradley||Entex Industries||Entex Industries|
|Launch price||US$49.99 (equivalent to $176in 2019)||US$59 (equivalent to $166in 2019)||US$79.99 (equivalent to $212in 2019)|
|Release date||November 1979||1981|
|CPU||Main: None |
Cartridge: 100 kHz Intel 8021
|Main: None (CPU was contained within the cartridge) |
Cartridge: Hitachi HD38800
|733 kHz Intel 8048|
|Memory||64 bytes RAM||64 bytes RAM (on CPU) |
1 kilobyte (on main PCB)
|Video||16 x 16 pixel LCD||7 x 16 pixel VFD |
2 colors (red & blue)
|150 x 40 pixel spinning mirror system |
|Audio||Piezo Buzzer||National Semiconductor COP411L @ 52.6 kHz|
|Console||Super Micro||Epoch Game Pocket Computer||Game & Watch|
|Launch price||US$39.95 (equivalent to $98in 2019)||¥12,800 (equivalent to ¥15,516in 2019)||¥5,800 (equivalent to ¥7,031in 2019)|
|Release date||May 1984||April 28, 1980|
|Units sold||Fewer than 37,200||Unknown||43.4 million|
|Media||Cartridge||Cartridge||1 built in game per device|
|CPU||None (CPU was contained within the cartridge)||6 MHz NEC D78c06|
|Memory||2 kilobytes RAM|
|Video||32 x 16 pixel LCD |
57.15 x 38.1mm
|75 x 64 pixel LCD||Segmented LCD|
The Atari 2600, originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System or Atari VCS for short until November 1982, is a home video game console from Atari, Inc. Released on September 11, 1977, it is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on ROM cartridges instead of dedicated hardware with games physically built into the unit. The 2600 was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge: initially Combat, and later Pac-Man.
The Atari 5200 SuperSystem, commonly known as the Atari 5200, is a home video game console that was introduced in 1982 by Atari Inc. as a higher-end complementary console for the popular Atari 2600. The 5200 was created to compete with the Intellivision, but wound up more directly competing with the ColecoVision shortly after its release.
Arcadia 2001 is a second-generation 8-bit home video game console released by Emerson Radio in May 1982, several months before the release of ColecoVision. It was discontinued only 18 months later, with a total of 35 games having been released. Emerson licensed the Arcadia 2001 to Bandai, which released it in Japan. Over 30 Arcadia 2001 clones exist.
Coleco Industries, Inc. was an American company founded in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg as The Connecticut Leather Company. It became a highly successful toy company in the 1980s, known for its mass-produced version of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and its video game consoles, the Coleco Telstar dedicated consoles and ColecoVision. While the company disappeared in 1988 as a result of bankruptcy, the Coleco brand was revived in 2005, and remains active to this day.
The ColecoVision is Coleco Industries' second-generation home video-game console that was released in August 1982. The ColecoVision offered a closer experience to more powerful arcade game systems, compared to competitors such as the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200, along with the means to expand the system's basic hardware.
The Intellivision is a home video game console released by Mattel Electronics in 1979. The name Intellivision is a portmanteau of "intelligent television". Development of the console began in 1977, the same year as the introduction of its main competitor, the Atari 2600. In 1984 Mattel sold their video game assets to a former Mattel Electronics executive and investors that would become INTV Corporation. Games development started in 1978 and continued until 1990 when the Intellivision was discontinued. From 1980 to 1983 over 3 million Intellivision units were sold.
The video game crash of 1983 was a large-scale recession in the video game industry that occurred from 1983 to 1985, primarily in the United States. The crash was attributed to several factors, including market saturation in the number of game consoles and available games, and waning interest in console games in favor of personal computers. Revenues peaked at around $3.2 billion in 1983, then fell to around $100 million by 1985. The crash abruptly ended what is retrospectively considered the second generation of console video gaming in North America.
Zaxxon is a 1982 isometric shooter arcade game, developed and released by Sega, in which the player pilots a ship through heavily defended space fortresses. Some sources claim that Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki also worked on the development of the game.
Pitfall! is a video game designed by David Crane for the Atari 2600 and released by Activision in 1982. The player controls Pitfall Harry and is tasked with collecting all the treasures in a jungle within 20 minutes while avoiding obstacles and hazards.
1983 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Mario Bros., Pole Position II and Spy Hunter.
1982 was the peak year of arcade and console games during the Golden age of arcade video games. Troubles at Atari, Inc. late in the year triggered the North American video game crash of 1983. Many games were released that would spawn franchises, or at least sequels, including Dig Dug, Pole Position, Mr. Do!, Pitfall!, and Q*bert. Additional consoles add to a crowded market. The new Commodore 64 goes on to eventually dominate the 8-bit home computer market.
Imagic was an American video game developer and publisher that created games initially for the Atari 2600. Founded in 1981 by Atari, Inc. and Mattel expatriates, its best-selling titles were Atlantis, Cosmic Ark, and Demon Attack. Imagic also released games for Intellivision, ColecoVision, Atari 8-bit family, TI-99/4A, IBM PCjr, VIC-20, Commodore 64, and Magnavox Odyssey². Their Odyssey² ports of Demon Attack and Atlantis were the only third party releases for that system in America. The company never recovered from the North American video game crash of 1983 and was liquidated in 1986.
River Raid is a vertically scrolling shooter designed and programmed by Carol Shaw and published by Activision in 1982 for the Atari 2600 video game console. Over a million game cartridges were sold. Activision later ported the title to the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Intellivision consoles, as well as to the Commodore 64, IBM PCjr, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and Atari 8-bit family. Shaw did the Atari 8-bit and Atari 5200 ports herself.
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns is a platform video game originally released for the Atari 2600 by Activision in 1984. It is the sequel to 1982's Pitfall!. Both games were designed and programmed by David Crane and star jungle explorer Pitfall Harry. Pitfall II's major additions are a much larger world with vertical scrolling, rivers to swim in, and balloons that can be grabbed to float between locations.
In the history of video games, the first-generation era refers to the video games, video game consoles, and handheld video game consoles available from 1972 to 1983. Notable consoles of the first generation include the Odyssey series, the Atari Home Pong, the Coleco Telstar series and the Color TV-Game series. The generation ended with the Computer TV-Game in 1980, but many manufacturers had left the market prior due to the market decline in 1977 and the start of second generation of video game consoles.
Pac-Man was released for the Atari 2600 in 1982, developed and published by Atari, Inc. under official license by Namco. The player controls the title character, who attempts to consume all of the wafers while avoiding four ghosts that pursue him. Eating flashing wafers at the corners of the screen will cause the ghosts to turn blue and flee, allowing Pac-Man to eat them for bonus points.
Cosmic Avenger is a horizontally scrolling shooter developed by Universal Entertainment Corporation and released in arcades by Universal in July 1981. It is one of the first shooters with forced X-axis scrolling along with Konami's Scramble released earlier in the year. The final installment in Universal's Cosmic series, players take control of the Avenger space fighter and use bullets and bombs to fight enemy forces.
Atari, Inc. was an American video game developer and home computer company founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Primarily responsible for the formation of the video arcade and modern video game industry, the company was closed and its assets split in 1984 as a direct result of the video game crash of 1983.
A home video game console or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.
M Network was a video game division of Mattel that, in the 1980s, produced games in cartridge format for the Atari 2600 video game system.
'First quarter sales of ColecoVision were substantial, although much less that[ sic ] those for the year ago quarter,' Greenberg said in a prepared statement. He said the company has sold 2 million ColecoVision games since its introduction in 1982.
By this point, second-place Fairchild sold around 250,000 units of its system.
The year's sales of 1.5 million ColecoVision units brought the installed base to over 2 million units worldwide.Cite journal requires
The company has stopped producing its 5200 SuperSystem games player, more than 1 million of which were sold.