History of Video Game Systems

Every Video Game Console Ever Released (in the USA)

Video games have been a preferred brain candy around the world for decades. In the United States alone, over 200 million people regularly indulge in this flashing, beeping, button-mashing madness. That’s only a fraction of the 3.09 billion gamers worldwide. In fact, the global video game industry raked in a jaw-dropping $200 billion in revenue in 2023 - with American gamers accounting for over a quarter of that obscene sum.

It's safe to say us Yanks are absolutely hooked. But can you blame us? With thousands of titles across hundreds of different consoles, the history of gaming hardware is a wild, winding road - from the dimwitted delights of the 1970s to the shiny new technological terrors of today.

In this comprehensive guide, we're going to take you through every single video game console that's been officially released in the good ol' US of A. Whether you're a diehard retro enthusiast or a latest-and-greatest advocate, strap in for a journey through the ever-evolving world of gaming. 

Below is a somewhat sequential, all-encompassing list of video game consoles that landed in America. Oh, and if you’re looking for some outlandish fun facts on gaming, we’ve got that too.

1970’s: It Begins.

Magnavox Odyssey

Launched in 1972 as the world’s first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey laid the groundwork for all future consoles. It was a pioneer, albeit with simple graphics and gameplay, offering an innovative start to home gaming.

Coleco Telstar

Hitting the market in 1976, the Coleco Telstar was part of the first wave of consoles to utilize the Pong format. It stood out by offering several models with varying games, tapping into the early enthusiasm for video gaming at home.

Fairchild Channel F

Introduced in 1976, the Fairchild Channel F made history as the first programmable ROM cartridge-based video game console. It was revolutionary, allowing players to change games via cartridges, a concept that would define the industry.

Atari VCS 2600

The Atari 2600, launched in 1977, was iconic for popularizing interchangeable cartridges and bringing arcade favorites home. Its extensive game library and influence on pop culture cemented its legendary status.

Magnavox Odyssey2

Coming out in 1978, the Odyssey2 combined gaming with educational content, featuring a keyboard for interactive learning. It was known for its unique game titles and was an early example of blending education with entertainment.


Debuting in 1979, the Intellivision was marketed as a more sophisticated alternative to the Atari 2600, boasting better graphics and more complex games. It was a trailblazer in creating a more immersive gaming experience.

1980’s: This is Getting Fun.

Atari 5200

Released in 1982, the Atari 5200 was intended to be a successor to the 2600 with improved graphics and a new controller design. Despite its enhancements, it struggled with compatibility issues and stiff competition.


The ColecoVision, launched in 1982, aimed to bring arcade-quality games into the living room. It was praised for its superior graphics and came bundled with the popular game "Donkey Kong," showcasing its arcade fidelity.

Sega SG-1000

Sega's debut console, the SG-1000, was released in 1983 in Japan. Though overshadowed by its successors, it marked Sega's entry into the console market, laying the groundwork for its future innovations.

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Reviving the industry post-1983 crash, the NES, released in North America in 1985, introduced classics like "Super Mario Bros." Its success revitalized home gaming and established Nintendo as a dominant force.

Atari 7800

Launched in 1986, the Atari 7800 offered backward compatibility with 2600 games and improved graphics capabilities. It was Atari's response to regain the market, despite facing tough competition from Nintendo.

Sega Master System

The Sega Master System, released in 1986, boasted superior graphics to its rivals and introduced gamers to "Alex Kidd" and early "Sonic" games. While overshadowed in the US, it enjoyed significant success abroad.

Atari XEGS

In 1987, the Atari XEGS was introduced as both a gaming console and a computer system, aiming to bridge the gap between computer and console gaming with its keyboard attachment and library of games.

Nintendo Game Boy

The Game Boy, launched in 1989, revolutionized portable gaming with titles like "Tetris" and "Pokémon." Its affordability, durability, and battery life made it a staple in handheld gaming for years to come.

Atari Lynx

Released in 1989, the Atari Lynx was the first handheld game console with a color screen and offered features ahead of its time, including network gaming. Despite its innovations, it struggled against Nintendo's Game Boy.

Sega Genesis

The Sega Genesis, known as Mega Drive outside North America, hit the market in 1989, heralding the 16-bit era. With its bold marketing and mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, it became a defining console of the 1990s.

NEC Turbografx-16

Launched in 1989, the TurboGrafx-16 stood out with its 16-bit graphics processor, despite a primarily 8-bit architecture. It's remembered for cult classics like "Bonk's Adventure," carving a niche in the console wars.

1990’s: How Many Is Too Many?

Neo Geo AES

The Neo Geo AES, released in 1990, was the home version of SNK's arcade machine, offering unmatched graphics and sound quality. Its high price point made it a luxury item among gaming consoles.

Sega Game Gear

Sega's Game Gear, introduced in 1990, was a direct competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy with a backlit color screen and a wide game library, aiming to offer a more technologically advanced handheld gaming experience.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

The SNES, released in 1991, escalated the console wars with its advanced graphics, sound, and iconic games like "Super Mario World." It remains a defining moment in gaming history for its innovation and game library.

Atari Lynx II

The Lynx II, a revised version of the original Lynx, launched in 1991 with improved battery life and a sleeker design. It was an advanced handheld for its time, though it struggled in the shadow of its competitors.

Sega CD

Released in 1992, the Sega CD was an add-on for the Genesis, introducing gamers to CD-ROM technology with enhanced graphics and audio capabilities, though it faced criticism for its game library quality.

Watara Supervision

The Watara Supervision, introduced in 1992, attempted to compete with the Game Boy with its lower price point and tilt-screen design but failed to capture a significant market share due to its inferior game selection.

3DO Interactive Multiplayer

The 3DO, launched in 1993, was a high-end multimedia console with impressive graphics and an innovative controller design. Despite some acclaimed titles, its high cost limited its commercial success.

Atari Jaguar

Released in 1993, the Jaguar was marketed as the first 64-bit system, aiming to surpass the graphics of its competitors. However, its complicated architecture and lack of solid game titles led to its downfall.

Sega Pico

Launched in 1994, the Sega Pico was designed for educational games for children, featuring a stylus and interactive storybooks. It was an early example of gaming's potential in learning.

Sega Saturn

The Sega Saturn, released in 1994, focused on 2D and 3D gaming with titles like "Panzer Dragoon." Despite strong initial sales in Japan, it struggled internationally against Sony's PlayStation.

Sega Nomad

The Nomad, released in 1995, was a portable Genesis with a built-in screen, allowing gamers to play their favorite Genesis titles on the go. It was innovative but hampered by poor battery life.

Sony PlayStation

Launched in 1994, the PlayStation revolutionized gaming with its CD-ROM format, sophisticated 3D graphics, and expansive library, becoming a dominant force in the gaming world.

Nintendo Virtual Boy

Released in 1995, the Virtual Boy was Nintendo’s foray into 3D gaming but is often regarded as a commercial failure due to its limited color display, discomfort in use, and poor game selection.

Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64, launched in 1996, brought 3D gaming into the mainstream with titles like "Super Mario 64." Its unique controller and emphasis on multiplayer gaming left a lasting impact.

Nintendo Game Boy Pocket

Introduced in 1996, the Game Boy Pocket was a more compact and lighter version of the original Game Boy, offering the same beloved gaming experience in a more portable form.

Nintendo Game Boy Color

The Game Boy Color, launched in 1998, brought color graphics to handheld gaming, significantly expanding the Game Boy’s game library and popularity with titles like "Pokémon Gold and Silver."

Neo Geo Pocket

SNK's Neo Geo Pocket, released in 1998, was a stylish handheld with a click-stick and impressive battery life. While it boasted strong titles, it was ultimately overshadowed by Nintendo's offerings.

Sega Dreamcast

Launched in 1999, the Dreamcast was Sega's final console, celebrated for its innovative features like internet connectivity and a vast library of acclaimed titles, though it ultimately couldn't compete with Sony's PlayStation 2.

Neo Geo Pocket Color

Released in 1999, this was an upgraded version of the Neo Geo Pocket, boasting a color screen and a strong game lineup, though it struggled in a market dominated by Nintendo's handhelds.


Bandai's WonderSwan, released in 1999 in Japan, offered a compact design and long battery life. It saw success with titles from franchises like "Final Fantasy," but remained mostly a Japan-exclusive gem.

2000’s: Getting REAL.

Sony PlayStation 2

The PlayStation 2, launched in 2000, became the best-selling video game console of all time, praised for its vast game library, DVD playback, and backward compatibility, solidifying Sony's dominance in the gaming industry.

Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Released in 2001, the Game Boy Advance brought 32-bit gaming to handheld devices, featuring a landscape design and a rich library of games that bridged classic Nintendo titles with new experiences.

Nintendo GameCube

The GameCube, launched in 2001, was Nintendo's foray into optical disc-based gaming, offering titles like "Super Smash Bros. Melee" and "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker," with a focus on fun, multiplayer experiences.

Microsoft Xbox

Debuting in 2001, Microsoft's first foray into gaming consoles brought PC gaming features to the living room, with an integrated hard drive, online gaming via Xbox Live, and exclusives like "Halo."

Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP

Launched in 2003, the GBA SP introduced a clamshell design and a front-lit screen (later models had a backlight), addressing the original GBA's lack of illumination and enhancing portability and playability.

Nintendo DS

The DS, introduced in 2004, revolutionized handheld gaming with its dual screens, touch screen functionality, and Wi-Fi for wireless gaming, expanding the audience for gaming with titles for all age groups.

Atari Flashback

Released in 2004, the Atari Flashback was a series of dedicated consoles preloaded with classic Atari games, tapping into nostalgia for the golden age of arcade gaming in a compact, plug-and-play format.

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Sony's PSP, launched in 2004, offered powerful graphics, multimedia capabilities, and online connectivity in a handheld, challenging Nintendo's dominance in the portable gaming market.

Nintendo Game Boy Micro

The Game Boy Micro, released in 2005, was the final iteration of the Game Boy line, notable for its incredibly small size, interchangeable faceplates, and compatibility with all GBA titles.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Launched in 2005, the Xbox 360 brought HD gaming to the forefront, with achievements, a robust online service in Xbox Live, and a strong lineup of games, establishing a solid foundation for online gaming communities.

Nintendo DS Lite

Released in 2006, the DS Lite refined the original DS design with a slimmer profile, brighter screens, and a more appealing look, further cementing the DS's popularity among a wide range of players.

Sony PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3, launched in 2006, featured a powerful Cell processor, Blu-ray disc drive, and integrated online gaming through the PlayStation Network, though its high launch price was a point of contention.

Nintendo Wii

The Wii, introduced in 2006, broke gaming conventions with its motion-sensing Wii Remote, appealing to a broad demographic with games like "Wii Sports," and becoming a cultural phenomenon.

Nintendo DSi

Launched in 2008, the DSi built upon the DS's success with improved features like larger screens, two cameras, and the introduction of the DSi Shop for downloadable content.

2010’s: Yeah Internet!

Nintendo 3DS

The 3DS, released in 2011, introduced glasses-free 3D gaming to the handheld market, along with backward compatibility with DS titles, and features like StreetPass and SpotPass to connect with other players.

Sony PlayStation Vita

Sony's Vita, launched in 2011, featured high-definition touchscreens, dual analog sticks, and robust online capabilities. It was praised for its hardware but struggled to find a wide audience.

Nintendo 3DS XL

Released in 2012, the 3DS XL offered larger screens than the original 3DS, making the 3D experience more immersive and enjoyable, alongside a longer battery life and a bigger overall form factor.

Nintendo Wii U

Launched in 2012, the Wii U introduced a unique GamePad controller with a built-in screen, offering second-screen gameplay. Despite innovative features, it struggled with market reception but is fondly remembered for gems like "Splatoon" and "Mario Kart 8."

Sony PlayStation 4

Released in 2013, the PlayStation 4 emphasized gamer-focused features, strong social integration, and a powerful hardware setup, leading to a vast library of high-quality titles and making it a best-seller of its generation.

Microsoft Xbox One

The Xbox One, launched in 2013, focused on being an all-in-one entertainment system with features like voice control, multimedia capabilities, and strong integration with Windows platforms, evolving significantly throughout its lifecycle.

Nintendo 2DS

Introduced in 2013, the 2DS was a budget-friendly member of the 3DS family, removing the 3D feature and adopting a slate form factor, making it accessible to a wider audience, especially younger gamers.


Launched in 2013, the Ouya aimed to revolutionize the console market with its Android-based platform focused on indie games, free-to-try model, and affordable price, but struggled to gain a foothold in the competitive gaming market.

New Nintendo 3DS

Released in 2014, the New Nintendo 3DS introduced improved 3D viewing, added control with a second analog nub, and enhanced processing power, refreshing the 3DS line with a focus on performance and usability.

New Nintendo 3DS XL

Alongside the New 3DS, the New 3DS XL launched in 2014 with larger screens, improved 3D stability, extra controls, and boosted processing power, making it the definitive version of the 3DS platform.

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

The PS4 Pro, launched in 2016, offered enhanced performance with support for 4K resolution and HDR, targeting gamers with advanced display technology and offering a more powerful version of the PS4.

Microsoft Xbox One X

Introduced in 2017, the Xbox One X was touted as the most powerful console of its time, with 4K gaming, enhanced graphics, and backward compatibility, aimed at delivering premium performance.

New Nintendo 2DS XL

Launched in 2017, the New 2DS XL provided a lighter, more ergonomic design with large screens and improved processing power, minus the 3D feature, rounding off the DS family of handhelds.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch, released in 2017, revolutionized gaming with its hybrid design, allowing for seamless transition between handheld and docked play. Its versatility and strong game library have made it immensely popular worldwide.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Released in 2019, the Switch Lite is a compact, handheld-only version of the Switch, designed for portable play, with integrated controls and compatibility with most Switch titles, targeting gamers on the go.

2020’s: Behold… the Frontier!

Sony PlayStation 5

Launched in 2020, the PlayStation 5 set a new standard for console gaming with its ultra-fast SSD, stunning 4K graphics, and innovative DualSense controller, despite supply challenges at launch.

Microsoft Xbox Series X

The Series X, introduced in 2020, brought powerful specs to the Xbox lineup, boasting 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, backward compatibility, and a focus on fast loading times and performance.

Microsoft Xbox Series S

Alongside the Series X, the Series S was released in 2020 as a smaller, more affordable next-gen option, offering digital-only gaming with lower resolution but maintaining high performance and fast load times.

Nintendo Switch OLED

Introduced in 2021, the Switch OLED model features a vibrant OLED screen, improved audio, and a wider adjustable stand, enhancing the portable gaming experience while retaining the versatility of the original Switch.

Atari VCS

Relaunched in 2020, the Atari VCS combines classic Atari games with modern PC capabilities, featuring a retro design with contemporary tech, appealing to nostalgia and versatility in entertainment.

Steam Deck

Announced in 2021, Valve's Steam Deck is a powerful handheld PC gaming device, offering access to the extensive Steam library on the go, blending the line between PC and console gaming with its performance and versatility.

As of April 2024, that’s the list folks! From the lofi wonders of the 70s to the experimental, half-baked delights of the 80s and 90s and the mind-bogglingly powerful (in comparison) gaming systems of today - the story of video game consoles is a true MMP campaign.

But the fun is far from over. Today, eSports are a legitimate form of entertainment with over 400 million fans (let alone athletes… do we call them that?). What’s next? Bionic contact lenses that let you play Fortnite with your eyes? Nanobots that burrow into your brain for a fully immersive experience? The possibilities are endless - and probably equally terrifying.

If you want a visual guide to gaming's illustrious past, check out our limited-edition History of Video Game Systems infographic poster. It's the perfect way to decorate your game room, dazzle friends, or horrify family. 

About the author(s):

Christman & Raelina

Christman and Raelina are both professional designers, writers and have been working with educational content for nigh on 30 years (between the two).

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