Nintendo Museum Exhibition

The company history page on Nintendo’s US website even starts in 1985, with the NES! Completely skipping the first hundred year since the company started in 1889. A period, admittedly, when the focus was primarily on the Japanese home market. For that matter, the Japanese site shows the full history, but with very short statements only and without any illustrations.

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Donkey Kong: The start of a collection

The scan shown above is from the actual copy I picked up that day, thirty years ago. Given the many times I have thumbed through it (and drooled over it), in the months that followed that moment, it looks surprisingly fresh. The main selling point of the ColecoVision was a mouth-watering home conversion of Donkey Kong. A screen shot of it was put prominently on the front of the brochure. With the yellow high-light behind it, it stood out more than the actual console itself. And with reason. This was its killer app.

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Nintendo Color Screen: Game and Watch Table Top

Four Color Screen titles were produced in total. The first two, introduced in early 1983, were Donkey Kong JR and Mario’s Cement Factory, pictured in this leaflet. Later that same year, the range was extended with games featuring Popeye and Snoopy. Even though the Color Screen had a bright (color!) screen, it consumed very little energy. It cleverly used a combination of regular black liquid crystals with sunlight projected through a mirror to create the images. According to this leaflet, it was able to run for three years on two C batteries without ever being switched off. It did not even have an on/off switch.

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Nintendo Computer TV Game

The technology wasn’t really ready for this kind of commercial home release, but Nintendo went ahead anyway, believing there would be market for it. The company achieved the conversion by simply incorporating a complete arcade board, resulted in a big, heavy machine that required a fat power supply that weighed more than 2 kilograms alone. It was expensive too, retailing for ¥48,000, for a machine that only could play Othello. Three years later the Family Computer, able to play hundreds of different games – including Othello – could be had for less than a third of that price.

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