The Famicom Turns 30 Years Old

The system that started it all

At the time of writing it may still be 14th July in many countries, but it's 15th July in Japan — that means that the Famicom has now turned 30 years old in its homeland. It would eventually make its way to the West, redesigned, as the iconic NES.

Of course, Nintendo had been a Playing Card company in its earliest years, before the rise of electronic gaming led the company to begin its first steps into the medium, with the Game & Watch series (1980) and the Donkey Kong arcade (1981) bringing success and — as a result — launching a new era of video game history as Nintendo delved into the exciting market. In the same year that many associate with the great Video Game Crash (1983), the Nintendo Family Computer — which would become commonly known as the Famicom — was released in Japan. It would be over two years before the design of the system would be overhauled and re-branded for the West as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but it was largely the same technology — aside from differences in pin numbers on cartridges, for example — in the Famicom that would eventually have such an impact worldwide.

The original model was certainly distinct from those that followed, with red colouring and controllers that were hardwired to the system; the controllers even had microphones, which were used in titles such as The Legend of Zelda.

So a happy 30th Anniversary to the Famicom. We'll be covering the system (and its NES brethren) extensively in the coming week to celebrate its history. In the meantime you can check out our Hardware Classics article on the follow-up AV Famicom; if any of you have an original Famicom, meanwhile, let us know in the comments below.