UK Museum Celebrates Handheld Gaming with New Exhibition

Full disclosure: it's in Swindon

Nintendo fans have a better grasp on handheld gaming than many, but Swindon Museum of Computing in England is about to plot the history of the portable with a new exhibition.

The new 'Gaming on the Go' exhibition charts 35 years of handheld history, starting with Mattel's 1976 Auto Race, a game running on a reprogrammed calculator chip with 21 LEDs for a display. Naturally there'll be plenty of Nintendo handhelds there too, from Game Boys to 3DS consoles; our History of the Nintendo Game & Watch makes a good read to prepare for the exhibition, too.

Swindon Museum of Computing launches 'Gaming on the Go' Exhibition

Whether it’s 'Brain-Training' on the train or 'Donkey Kong' on the beach, the modern handheld games console lets us play computer games wherever and whenever we want. In a new exhibition, the Museum of Computing in Swindon looks at the 35 year history of this device. It features some of the most (and least) successful portable games consoles, the machines that laid the foundations for mobile gaming today.

In 1976, toy company Mattel launched 'Auto Race', a portable electronic game with a 21 LED display, a reprogrammed calculator chip as its central processor and a program that fitted into half a kilobyte of memory. Despite its simplicity, it was a great success. Mattel followed it with many others including such classics as ‘Football’ and ‘Sub-Chase’. Fast forward to the present day and the latest console from Nintendo the 3DS, has two high resolution colour screens, one touch sensitive the other 3D, stereo sound, motion sensors and augmented reality software.

"It’s not often you get to see such an amazing collection all in one place" commented museum curator Simon Webb. "This is a fascinating look at the machines, the games and the technology, it's certainly come a long way"

Gaming on the Go has over 50 exhibits with many available for visitors to play. The exhibition is open until late summer 2011, standard museum admission charges apply.

The exhibition is open now until the end of summer, located at the Swindon Museum of Computing, 6-7 Theatre Square, Swindon SN1 1QN. Opening times are: Fridays from 10am to 4pm and Saturdays from 9.30am to 5 pm.

Admission fees are: £5.00 for a family ticket, £2 for adults, £1.50 for Students and Concessions, children age 6-15 yrs cost £1, under 5's go free. All children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. We welcome school parties and private groups by appointment.

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