A Brief History of Game Consoles, as Seen in Old TV Ads

1976: Fairchild Channel F

Gamers were tiring of PONG consoles, and Fairchild Instrument and Camera's Channel F console offered a fresh new alternative. It featured programmable "videocarts" containing ROM chips and code, as opposed to the dedicated circuits that the Magnavox Odyssey's plug-in cards used. The cartridge concept emerged as an industry standard, and is still used in handheld gaming devices today.

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The Channel F featured a 1.78-MHz Fairchild F8 CPU, invented by Fairchild cofounder Robert Noyce, who later left the company to start a little outfit called Intel. The $170 Channel F came with two built-in games (Pro Hockey and Tennis Champ), and some 20 different videocarts were available at $20 a pop.

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