The Coleco Telstar systems are perhaps not remembered as classic gaming systems. However, the series was the first to use the famous General Instruments AY-3-8500 CPU chip, which would go on to be used in dozens of Pong based consoles in the late 70s.
There were around a dozen variations of the Coleco Telstar released, which inevitably confused many customers. Though this increased competition would drove down prices and helped gaming become more popular in the home.
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The most popular gaming system of the late 70s and early 80s was a cultural phenomenon though the Atari had a rollercoaster life. The console was a raring success, earning Atari over $2 billion in profit in 1980. However, by 1983 the company started making a huge loss due to the video games market crash that year, which the Atari certainly contributed to.
Yet the Atari remains a fan favourite. The gaming industry was still finding it’s feet around this time which means that the quality of games ranged from awful to sheer brilliance. Many of the games which were launched on the Atari would go on to inspire some of the most popular games series of the 90s and 00s.
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Nintendo Entertainment System
Japanese giants Nintendo released the NES in Japan as the Famicom (short for Family Computer). They spoke to Atari, who pretty much had a monopoly in the gaming market in the early 80s, about releasing the system in the USA. However, when that broke down Nintendo decided to go it alone and release it themselves.
This proved to be a good decision. The NES is credited as saving the gaming industry in North America in the mid 80s with classic games such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. It would hold onto the number 1 position in gaming until the early 90s though Nintendo supported customers way into the 21st century.
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Sega Master System
Sega enjoyed a small amount of success with their SG 1000, which was released in Japan at the same time as the Nintendo Famicom. This console was also known as the Mark I. Mark II was released a year later and the following year the Mark III was released. This console would later be rebranded the Master System and was sold worldide.
Whilst the Master System only enjoyed moderate success in North America, it proved to be very popular in other territories such as Europe and South America. It also gave Sega reason to start developing their infamous Sega Megadrive console, which would steal a large part of the market from Nintendo in the late 80s and early 90s.
The Master System is not known for having an amazing games catalogue or for being a powerful system. Yet it still has a cult following to this day.
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