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What Do You Do at Home? The Return of the Good Old Console Games

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As more people become homebodies that prefer to spend time at home instead of outdoors for themselves and their social life, console games have become a huge trend as a way to kill time. Console games are games connected to a TV or a screen to play, and they are well-loved, as the whole family can play together. Let us reminisce of the old days of the antique console games and discover the secrets of semiconductors inside them. Time to reminisce! The transformation of retro console games
그때 그 시절 ‘콘솔게임’의 귀환 - 마그나복스 오디세이
그때 그 시절 ‘콘솔게임’의 귀환 - 마그나복스 오디세이
The world’s first gaming console for homes was invented by Ralph Baer at Magnavox, and it was called Magnavox Odyssey. This was the start of devices where users could switch the game chips to play multiple games. The Magnavox Odyssey did not have a CPU (Central Processing Unit), and was manufactured using analogue circuits composed of transistors and diodes. The console was very simple to use. First, users stuck a cellophane sheet called a “screen overlay” on the TV screen to prepare the game background. Then, they moved the little dot on the TV using a controller to play. This is quite different from the game consoles that we know of now, but it is still significant as it inspired the releases of the Atari 2600 and the Famicom.
2세대 콘솔 게임기 아타리2600
2세대 콘솔 게임기 아타리2600
Atari 2600 is a 2nd-generation gaming console released in 1977 by Atari, and it is the product that officially opened the at-home gaming device market. Users could change game packs by changing the ROM cartridge to play various games, and they could control characters up, down, right, and left using the joystick. Atari 2600 was hugely popular until the early 1980s. For Christmas 1979, Atari made 1,000,000 sales.
닌텐도 패미컴, 슈퍼패미컴
닌텐도 패미컴, 슈퍼패미컴
Atari 2600 basically hit the jackpot, which promoted the release of many new gaming consoles in the 1980s. Nintendo’s Family Computer released in 1983 and their Super Famicom released in 1990 reached the top of the gaming console market, thanks to Super Mario Brothers and its immense popularity. The Nintendo Family Computer had an 8-bit CPU, while the Famicom had graphics and sound upgrades with the 16-bit CPU. At the time, Nintendo devices used the semiconductor-based ROM cartridge as the data saver. A ROM cartridge is easily operated as long as it is plugged into the console, and its data processing speed is quick, so users could enjoy the games without lag. But ROM cartridges had a mask-ROM semiconductor base, which dramatically increased the cost of production at the time. And not only that, they lacked storage capacity and could not be mass-produced easily.
소니 플레이스테이션 시리즈(1~4)
소니 플레이스테이션 시리즈(1~4)
In 1994, 32-bit gaming consoles were released one after another. Their performance levels were upgraded from the pre-existing gaming consoles, and most devices switched to using CD-ROMs as the storage, which had more storage capacity, were cheap, and could be mass-produced. One of the most well-known examples of this would be Sony’s PlayStation. It was a groundbreaking product in the gaming industry as the console not only provided high-quality video and audio, but also greatly decreased the price of the software. In 1996, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo64 with a 64-bit processor while keeping the ROM cartridge as their data storage. This brought the transition of the top company in the gaming console industry from Nintendo to Sony. The PlayStation continued to be manufactured after 2000, even after its updated models were released. Up until 2004, when its sale stopped for good in Japan, Sony achieved the miraculous record of making 100 million sales around the world. Since then, gaming consoles switched from using CD-ROMs to DVDs, then to the next-generation optical disk, Blue-Ray as the data-saving medium. Such advancements have allowed for us to enjoy games in the highest quality we never even imagined! There are semiconductors in gaming consoles?! The 1st-generation console, Magnavox Odyssey, had a very simplistic main body without a CPU. But over generations, gaming consoles incorporated semiconductors, not only the CPU but also the GPU (Graphic Processing Unit), which continually improved the gaming experience. Recently, Sony and Microsoft announced their plans to release the new PS5 and Xbox Series X for the first time in 7 years since 2013. Along with this, they released the specifications in detail, signaling the start of a new generation. So far, gaming consoles mostly used the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) as the data-saving medium, which limited their speed. But by incorporating the next-generation medium, the SSD, a memory semiconductor instead, they are leaving the speed-loving gamers hopeful. The evolution of semiconductors impacts our lives in so many ways. Next time you enjoy some games, remember that they were made possible thanks to semiconductors!

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