What it was like Growing Up in the Eighties (1980s)
  • Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Golden Era of Video Games – A history

The Golden Era of Video Games was a time of great technical breakthroughs and game design creativity in arcade games. Video arcade games were designed in a wide variety of genres, while game developers had to work within strict limits of available processor power and memory. This era also saw the rapid spread of video arcades and gamerooms across North America, Europe and Japan. At the same time, video games started to appear in supermarkets, restaurants, bars, pubs, liquor stores, gas stations, bowling alleys storefronts and many other retail establishments looking for extra income and customer traffic.Very popular video arcade games would more than on occasion cause a crush of teenagers at arcades, eager to try the latest in public entertainment.

The two most successful arcade game companies of this era were Namco (the Japanese company that created Pac-ManPole Position, and Dig Dug) and Atari (the US-based firm that first introduced video games into arcades). These two companies wrestled for the top slot in American video arcades for several years. Other prominent arcade companies such as SegaNintendoCapcomKonami, TaitoWilliamsBally / Midway Manufacturing CompanyCinematronics and SNK were among many others also played major roles in the early development of the video arcade game industry.

The arcade game industry truly entered its “Golden Age” in the late 70’s and early 80’s,with consumer awareness and market penetration of video arcade machines in bars, pubs, malls, storefronts and restaurants rising rapidly with introductions of such classic video arcade machines like Asteroids, Space Invaders, GalaxianDonkey Kong, and the timeless video arcade classic game, Pac-Man.

List of best-selling arcade games

List of best-selling Video games for Consoles

1Super Mario Bros.
3Duck Hunt
4Super Mario Land
5Super Mario Bros. 3
6Super Mario Bros. 2
8The Legend of Zelda
9Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

List of 80’s Game Consoles

  • Astro Wars – Astro Wars was a table-top Space Game with many unique features: multi coloured invaders scoring up to 10,000 points, magnified display, unique exciting sound effects, built in automatic bonus game, five lanes of action, five lives per game and four …
  • Atari 2600 – Ahh, Atari. I had the Atari 2600 and the Atari 5200. It was the start of the video game console generation at home for me. I remember Atari’s competition was the Intellivision from Mattel Electronics and the Magnavox Odyssey. I believe …
  • Atari 5200 – The Atari 5200 SuperSystem, introduced in 1982, was like the Nintendo Light and a rival to the ColecoVision. I didn’t have one but my friend did. It featured games such as Pacman, Frogger, and Q-Bert. It ran on a 16 …
  • Atari 7800 – This was the poor man’s NES/ SMS.I felt really bad for my mate who got one of these the same Christmas I got my SMS. It wasn’t really much more than a souped up 2600 and had nothing that made
  • Colecovision – The ColecoVision was Coleco Industries’ home video game console, released in August, 1982. The ColecoVision offered arcade-quality graphics and gaming style, the ability to play other home consoles’ video games (notably the Sears chain in the U.S. and the Atari …
  • Football Hand-held Game – I remember having and playing an electronic hand-held game simply called “Football” and “Football II”. It consisted of a small screen with little red blips on top and a hand-full of buttons on the bottom. It made an annoying “beep” …
  • Galaxy Invaders – Galaxy Invaders, as you can imagine, was based on the popular arcade game Space Invaders. It was a yellow-coloured, narrow console with a big square red “firing” botton on the right and a metallic silver joy-stick on the left. It …
  • Game Boy – Ah, the Game Boy. I never had one, which was just as well. I borrowed one on many occassions. The little video box came with various games that you could buy on little cartridges. Super Mario I think, but for …
  • Intellivision Video Games…
  • Magnavox Odyssey…
  • Merlin – Merlin was this little red box that you held in your hand – the precursor to Game Boy. 9 buttons that lit up and sound effects that were SOOOO awesome! You could play up to 9 games – Tic Tac …
  • Microvision – What was the first handheld game console? Did Sony, or Sinclair, or Amstrad make it? Nope it was “Microvision”, it was the very first handheld game console – that could be said to be like modern ones – like the Gameboy …
  • Mini-Munchman – This was a hand held electronic game from 1981. It’s highly addictive and was based on a PAC-MAN style concept. You ate the fruit, avoided the ghosts and progressed onto tougher levels. For the record, i just re-purchased one. …
  • NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) – Nothing more than a grey box with two buttons on the front and a flip-up lid, the NES was my first real foray into computer gaming…if you don’t count the Acorn Electron! The NES pioneered the plus-sign style controller, although the …
  • Nintendo Game and Watch – Nintendo Game and Watch were those little handheld electronic games with the annoying sounds which were popular in the beginning of the 80s One of the most popular titles was Donkey Kong, in which your mission was to save a girl …
  • Philips Videopac – The Philips Videopac was a silver-coloured console with touch sensitive keys and cartridge type games. I had one in the Eighties and it’s still in my Mum and Dad’s attic! The Philips Videopac+ G7400 was released in 1983 in Europe …
  • Race N Chase…
  • Sega Dreamcast – In early to mid 1997, it became known that Sega was working on its successor to the Saturn, code-named Black Belt. On May 21, 1998 Sega unveiled its next-generation console called Dreamcast to the world. It was the first console capable …
  • Sega Game Gear – The Game Gear was released in Japan in October 1989, in the US the following year and in Europe the year after that. It was indeed superior to the Game Boy both graphically and ergonomically, however, its three hour battery …
  • Sega Master System – The SEGA Master System was SEGA’s answer to the NES. It featured games that were infinitely less popular than those on the NES (with a few exceptions, of course… the most prominent being “Ghouls N Ghosts”). I recall the gamepad being …
  • Sega Mega CD – You had to plug the Sega Mega CD onto the top of your Sega Mega Drive and you used to be able to play CDs. …
  • Sega Mega Drive / Genesis – The Sega Mega Drive is to games consoles in the 90s as George Best was to football 30 years previously. Video gaming and football were obviously around before them but once these guys appeared on the scene, the future would …
  • Sega Saturn – Sega’s 32 bit Saturn system didn’t enjoy the success of the Mega Dive/ Genesis but it was a 2D fighters dream! Most of the rare sought after games came when the coffin was being put in the grave. Arcade perfect …
  • SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) – SNES was a great video game console which followed on from the populer Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Super Mario was the game you got with it, and I also had Mario Kart which I couldn’t keep off! The games were …
  • TurboGrafx 16 – The Japanese version of this console was called the PC Engine and was badged as the TurboGrafx 16 for the North American market. It was very popular with third party companies and consumers but the U.S. version had lackluster support. …
  • Vectrex – One of the first computer game machines in the 80s was Vectrex made by MB. You had to put in a cartridge for different games and used various coloured plastic screens clipped over the monitor to change the colour of …

Towards the end of the Golden Era, national chains emerged such as Chuck E. Cheese’s, Dave and Busters and other similar entertainment center concepts that combined a traditional restaurant and/or bar environment with arcade games, and helped established the rapidly growing “family entertainment center” (FEC) and digital out-of-home entertainment industry that continue to grow be wildly successful to this very day…

Alphabetical List of 80s Game Consoles and Electronic Devices

  • Activision
  • Amstrad Computers
  • Apple IIc
  • Apple IIe
  • Apple IIgs
  • Atari 400 computer
  • Atari 800 computer
  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 5200 (it had a pause button!)
  • Atari 7800
  • Atari LX computer
  • Atari ST personal computer
  • BBC MICRO computer
  • death of Betamax VCR (as a home product)
  • cassette drives
  • Coleco Adam computer
  • ColecoVision
  • Commodore Amiga 1000 computer
  • Commodore 64 computer
  • Commodore 128 computer
  • Commodore VIC-20 computer
  • compact discs
  • IBM PC Jr.
  • Intellivision
  • Intellivision IntelliVoice
  • Koala Pad
  • introduction of Macintosh
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo R.O.B. the Robot
  • Nintendo Power Glove
  • Nintendo Power Pad
  • Odyssey
  • pocket hand-held electronic games
  • PXL 2000 – B/W camcorder that used audio cassettes
  • Questron video game books
  • Radio Shack Co-Co (color computer)
  • Radio Shack Tandy 100 (laptop computer)
  • Radio Shack Tandy 1000’s
  • Sega Master System
  • table top “stand up” video game machines
  • Texas Instruments home computers
  • Timex Sinclair 1000 computer (came with 2K!!!)
  • TRS-80 Model I computer
  • TRS-80 Model III computer
  • Vectrex (1982)
  • Walkman
  • wristwatch calculators
  • wristwatch video games
  • ZX Spectrum 48K computer