Gaming System (Hardware) Collections

The ICHEG collection of game systems includes the major home video game console manufactured since 1972 and a broad range of consoles from other regions; dozens of personal computers, both desktop and portable; more than 200 different handheld electronic game systems; and hundreds of children’s toys that incorporate elements of electronic game play.

Consoles, 1972–present

ICHEG’s collection of video game consoles and related artifacts includes examples of every generation of home console system manufactured for the American marketplace since 1972, plus systems sold internationally in the Asian and European markets. Key artifacts include the first home video game systems—Magnavox Odyssey (1972) and Atari Pong (1975)—as well as dozens of Pong-like systems from that same era. Also included are Fairchild Channel F (1976)—the first system to use interchangeable cartridges—and other early cartridge-based systems such as Atari 2600 (1977), Mattel’s Intellivision (1979), Colecovision (1982), and Atari 5200 (1982). The collection also includes several models of Vectrex (1982), including a 3-D Imager. Also represented are Nintendo Famicon (1983), Nintendo Entertainment System (1985), and other mid-1980s consoles including Atari 7800 (1986) and Sega Genesis (1989). There is also a comprehensive array of 1990s consoles, including Neo Geo (1990), SuperNintendo (1991), Sony PlayStation (1994), Sega Saturn (1995), Nintendo Virtual Boy (1995), Nintendo 64 (1996), and Sega Dreamcast (1998). All major recent consoles are also represented, including Sony Playstation 2 (2000), Microsoft Xbox (2001), Nintendo GameCube, Xbox 360 (2005), Playstation 3 (2006), and Nintendo Wii (2006). The collection includes many Japanese consoles including the Nintendo Famicon (1983), Sega Mega Drive (1988), Pioneer LaserActive (1993), and NEC's PC-FX (1994).

See also “Happy Birthday Home Video Games.”

Handhelds, 1976–present

ICHEG holds more than 200 different handheld electronic game systems, starting with the first such game ever made: Mattel Electronics’ Auto Race (1976). The collection includes more than 100 dedicated handhelds created in the late 1970s and early 1980s by companies like Mattel Electronics, Coleco, Entex, and Bandai. Among these are such well-known favorites as Mattel’s Football (1977), Parker Brothers’ Merlin (1978), and Coleco’s Head to Head Baseball (1982), as well as more obscure games like Mattel Electronics’ Dungeons and Dragons Computer Fantasy Game (1981). Also represented are numerous examples of table top arcade games from the early 1980s; the first handheld game system with interchangeable games, Milton Bradley’s Microvision (1979); and other handheld platforms such as Atari Lynx (1989), NEC TurboExpress (1990), Sega GameGear (1990), and Sony PSP (2004). Nintendo has long been the dominant producer of handheld systems, and ICHEG has dozens of Nintendo handhelds, from the Game and Watch (1980) to the GameBoy (1989) line through current generations of Nintendo DS (2004).

Personal Computers, 1979–present

Computers have facilitated electronic gaming in homes since the late 1970s and remain important platforms both for games played on individual computers and for multiplayer games played on the Internet. ICHEG’s collection includes dozens of computers, both desktop and portable, that variously provided platforms for gaming from the seventies through the present day. Included are numerous iterations of the Apple II line (Apple II, Apple II+, Apple IIe) that debuted in 1979; the world’s first portable computer, the Osborne 1 (1981); Atari computers such as the 400/800 (1980) and the 65XE (1985); members of the Commodore family, such as the Commodore 64 (1983), Commodore 16 (1984), and Amiga (1985); the Timex Sinclair 1000 (1982); and various other PC and Macintosh models up to the present. The collection also includes peripherals such as printers and modems that served as important accessories for many types of gaming.

Children’s Electronic Toys, 1976–present

ICHEG’s holdings include hundreds of children’s toys that incorporate elements of electronic game play. Texas Instruments, one of the leading pioneers of children’s electronic toys, is represented by dozens of different products, including Little Professor (1976), Speak & Spell (1978), and Touch & Tell (1981). Also included is both Simon (1978) and a Simon prototype made by its inventor, Ralph H. Baer, whose schematic drawings and related documents for the toy reside in ICHEG’s archival collections. Other examples of children’s electronic toys in the collection include the original Alphie the Robot (1978); board games with electronic elements, such as Dark Tower (1980); educational toys such as those produced by Leapfrog; collectible toys such as Tamagotchi (1996); and computer-connected and web-connected toys such as Lego Mindstorms (1998) and Webkinz (2006).