Nintendo NES console with controllers. Released in 1985, the NES took gaming to bold new levels. The games were substantially better than former consoles. Gamers were chomping at the bit to get hold of this hardware. Everyone from game stores to toy stores had difficulty keeping it in stock.
Nintendo Entertainment System - NES console. Front view. The NES defined 8-bit gaming giving the industry a measuring stick. If you wanted to compete with Nintendo, you had to match their standard. A year later, the Atari 7800 came close and had the advantage of being compatible with the large library of 2600 games, but it wasn't up to the same graphic and sound standard as the NES. The 7800 also suffered from a limited (or small) library of games designed to take advantage of it's power.
Nintendo NES console with cartridge slot door open showing the 72-pin connection inside the unit. Nintendo wanted to visually separate the NES and having a zero-insertion-force (ZIF) cartridge slot led their differentiation. It was styled to resemble a VCR's tape insertion mechanism that consumers were familiar with. Unfortunately, this led to reliability issues as the pins were tweaked and the game-cart contacts wore quickly.
Nintendo NES console - front left view. It wasn't until the Sega Genesis came on the scene that the NES had real competition. Released in 1989, the Genesis had impressive hardware, but the NES has grown a strong library of games. As the 1990's wore on, 16-bit consoles came out implying two times the... everything. This wasn't necessarily the case, but it was the beginning of the end for "*-bit" gaming. Although it's pretty vibrant even today! :)
Nintendo NES console - front right view showing it's standard RCA audio & video ports. As more sophisticated hardware began to compete with the NES, Nintendo created new game and accessory bundles to improve sales. New, more popular titles, became the pack-in games sold with new systems.
Nintendo NES console - rear view showing the Power port, Channel Selection switch and the port for the RF box. Problems with the 10NES lockout chip frequently resulted in the console's most infamous problem: the blinking red power light, in which the system appears to turn itself on and off repeatedly because the 10NES would reset the console once per second. The lockout chip was quite finicky, requiring precise timing in order to permit the system to boot. Dirty, aging and bent connectors would often disrupt the timing, resulting in the blink effect.
Nintendo NES console - bottom view. Nintendo's near monopoly on the home video game market gave them influence over the industry exceeding even that of Atari. Unlike Atari, which never actively courted third-party developers, Nintendo had anticipated and encouraged the involvement of third-party software developers-but strictly on Nintendo's terms. The Nintendo Seal of Quality was placed on every officially licensed NES cartridge released in North America.
Nintendo NES Ports & Connections
Nintendo NES right side ports: Audio and Video. That was pretty progressive for 1985. Since then, most gaming consoles came with unique adapters for connecting to a TV's RCA A/V ports. Generic RCA cables from Radio Shack will get you hooked up!
Nintendo NES rear ports close-up: Power port, Channel Selection switch and the port for the RF box. Nintendo maintained tight control over any game to be released for the NES. All 3rd party developers were limited to releasing no more than 5 games each year ( they bypassed that by using different names. Konami's "Ultra" brand is an example of this. Nintendo was also the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of NES cartridges which made it nearly impossible to self-publish.
Nintendo NES controller ports.
Nintendo NES Joystick Controllers
Nintendo NES controllers. The NES controllers set a new standard in gaming. Adding Start and Select buttons brought standard console functionality into the hands of gamers via the controller's design. Most gaming hardware relied heavily on a single Fire button. The NES was one of the first multi-button controllers to add very different functionality to the A and B buttons. This is also where the D-pad gained mass appeal.
Nintendo NES controller light-gun was one of the first "gun" accessories to implement a working model beyond being a gimmick. We also was the disappearance of the traditional joystick. Deemed bulky, the joystick was replaced with what has become known as a D-pad - giving both thumbs an equal workout.
The Nintendo NES light-gun never gained wide acceptance or use in many games, it did initiate the idea the the standard controller might not always be the best -or only - way to interact with video games.
Nintendo NES Accessories
Nintendo NES RF Box continued the "automated" standard set by the Atari 5200 where the switch would auto-sense the console and switch from the TV setting. Unlike the 5200 (and the RCA Studio II) the NES RF box didn't have anything to do with powering the console.
Released in 1990, the Four Score 4-player adapter for the Nintendo NES allows four-player gameplay on games that support it. Before it's release, games featuring support for more than two players had players alternate turns using 2 NES controllers. Other games that originally featured support for more than two players decreased the number of simultaneous players to two. Four Score 4-player adapter for Nintendo NES - back of box. There is a switch for 2-player and 4-player modes as well as turbo A and B buttons that give any of the connected controllers a turbo boost. The Four Score can also be used as a controller extension cable because the wire which leads from the accessory to the NES is several feet in length.
Nintendo NES Power Glove
Nintendo Power Glove's sensor bar that wraps around the top right corner of an old-school TV set. The Power Glove sends signals to this bar that discerns coordinates and commands.
Nintendo Power Glove's sensor bar set up.
The upper-left sensor (#1) for the Nintendo Power Glove.
The upper-right sensor (#2) for the Nintendo Power Glove provides lights to help the user determine if the Glove is centered and verifies some of the wireless commands.
The lower-right sensor (#3) for the Nintendo Power Glove
The Nintendo Power Glove's junction box showing the connection for the Glove. The text on top of the Nintendo Power Glove's junction box.
Nintendo Power Glove for the NES came out in 1989 by Mattel Electronics and was the first controller to use a players movements to control a game. Unfortunately it didn't work very well due to imprecise and difficult to use controls. Although an officially licensed Nintendo product, they did not have part in the design. It never gained functional praise around it's release, but it's often a cherished item among collectors due to it's uniqueness.
Top view of the Nintendo Power Glove.
Side view of the Nintendo Power Glove.
Bottom of the Nintendo Power Glove showing how the unit attaches to your arm.
Close-up of the Nintendo Power Glove's control panel.
Detail of the Nintendo Power Glove's fingers. Sensors inside the fingers could detect bending (making a fist, etc).
Detail of the Nintendo Power Glove's outbound sensors that interact with the sensor bar.
Front view of the Nintendo NES Test Station. The NES Test Station was a testing device made by Nintendo in 1988 for testing NES hardware, accessories and games. It was only provided for use in World of Nintendo boutiques as part of the Nintendo World Class Service program. Customers could bring in their NES to be tested on the station, with assistance from a technician or store employee.
The NES Test Station features a Game Pak slot and connectors for testing the components: AC adapter, RF switch, Audio/Video cable, NES Control Deck, controllers and accessories. A main selector dial, in the center, was used to select the component to test. The unit is quite large weighing nearly 40 pounds. It hooks up to a television through either AV Cables or RF Switch - both options are selectable via a button. A TV can be placed on top of it. On the front edge are three colored button switches: an illuminated red Power switch, a blue Reset switch and a green switch for alternating between AV and RF connections when testing an NES.
The main dial selections are:
Game Pak Channel (for testing Game carts)
Control Deck and Accessories Channel (tests for NES Controllers, Zapper; even R.O.B. and the Power Pad)
Audio Video Channel
AC Adaptor Channel
RF Switch Channel
System Channel (for testing the NES)
The unit displays the selected output's test results as either 'Pass' or 'Fail.' Nintendo later provided an add-on for testing Super NES components and games, called the Super NES Counter Tester.
Nintendo NES Top Loading Console
Front view of the top-loading Nintendo NES.
Front view of the top-loading Nintendo NES showing the 2 controller ports and Power & Reset switches.
Left side of the top-loading Nintendo NES.
Right side of the top-loading Nintendo NES.
Rear of the top-loading Nintendo NES. Rear of the top-loading Nintendo NES showing the connection ports.
Bottom of the top-loading Nintendo NES. Bottom of the top-loading Nintendo NES showing FCC info & model number.
The top-loading Nintendo NES with a game cartridge inserted.
The top-loading Nintendo NES with a game cartridge inserted.
The top-loading Nintendo NES with a controller.
Photo of the top-loading Nintendo NES (and BEMO from Adventure Time) that I took shortly after UPS dropped off the package.
Photo of the top-loading Nintendo NES with the 30th Anniversary Mario Classic Color amiibo.
Nintendo NES Top Loading Console: Ports & Connections
Rear ports on the top-loading Nintendo NES. Shown is the channel switch, RF Output and power port.
Front controller ports on the top-loading Nintendo NES. Player 1 and player 2.
Cartridge slot on the top-loading Nintendo NES. Why yes, that is a plastic knife on the right holding the spring-loaded flaps open ;)
Power and Reset sliders on the top-loading Nintendo NES.
Electrical info on the Power brick of the top-loading Nintendo NES.
Nintendo NES Promotional Ads
Nintendo clothing ad from Homer's in Omaha Nebraska. Get decked out Nintendo-style and what kid wouldn't love a sleep-over with a custom NES carry bag?
Ad for Dig Dug II on the Nintendo NES.
Tecmo games for the Nintendo NES.
The Nintendo NES at Toys R Us. It's hard to imagine that Rambo was one of the "hottest games of the year" and I highly doubt it was coming in by the "truckload". :)
1990 ad for Pictionary on the Nintendo NES.
Ad for Jackal and Contra on the Nintendo NES. The fine print states that the Jackal screen shot was taken on an Amiga.
1989 ad for Acclaims wireless NES controllers. In addition to the freedom of a wireless controller, this 2-player pair featured slow-mo and rapid fire options. The ad states they work up to 30 feet away! Try that with today's wireless controllers - they get flakey at half that distance.
Did we really look like this in the late 80s? Yikes!
1991 ad for Galoob's Game Genie for Nintendo NES. I remember the popularity of these code-bank accessories, but never wanted one. What's the point of spending money on a game and more money on a device to make the game easy? I understand the appeal, but I didn't want one.
The fine print clearly states that Nintendo does NOT endorse this item. Nintendo was pretty pissed about this device as I recall.
Sears was one of the first retailers to strike a lucrative deal with Atari. Video games were so new at the time, no one knew what type of store should sell them. As the NES revived the game industry Sears saw a new opportunity to recreate their prior success with the 2600.
Here is an ad for the NES at the $99 price point.
1990 ad for 3 Activision titles on the NES - Archon, Stealth and The Three Stooges.
Ad highlighting sports titles on the NES as well as some alternate controller options and Nintendo's Player's Guide.
NES Power Glove Ad. "Everything else is child's play"