If you’re an American in your early thirties, you probably have fond memories of playing Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda on a Nintendo Entertainment System. After the flameout of the Atari 2600 system, video gaming was in rough shape financially. The NES helped revitalize gaming and provided a strong template for future console makers to follow.
But the NES wasn’t the first of its breed. It was based on Nintendo’s Family Computer, aka the Famicom, released in Japan 25 years ago. Originally retailing for 14,800 yen (about $63.54 in 1983 dollars), the Famicom sparked a two-decade-long era of Japanese console dominance and sold 61.9 million units worldwide in its various forms.
Few westerners have seen the original unit that launched Nintendo’s video game empire, but that’s about to change. We’ll examine an original 1983 Famicom, its controllers, its games, and even a unique disk system accessory that never released outside of Japan.
(Benj Edwards is the founder and editor in chief of Vintage Computing and Gaming. He wrote the captions and produced the photos for this slide show. Other classic tech gear he’s torn down include the Apple IIc, the TRS-80 Model 100, and the World’s Greatest Keyboard.)