NES Turns 25 Today

NES game system

Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of Nintendo's NES system in the United States. Although this went on to be one of the best-selling, most popular, and most influential home consoles ever, its roots in the U.S. were far more humble than many might realize.


In the aftermath of the video game collapse of 1983, many American retailers were understandably wary of attempts to return home game consoles to their shelves. Nintendo had managed to find some success when it released the NES in Japan in July of 1983 (where it was called the Famicom), but breaking into the potentially lucrative U.S. market proved trickier. So the company's president made a gutsy proposal: launch it in New York City. In order to get it into stores, Nintendo emphasized its Zapper light gun and R.O.B. (Robot Operating Buddy) controller, agreed to do all the work setting up in-store displays, and promised to take back any unsold stock for free. About 500 stores, including famed toy store FAO Schwartz, took Nintendo up on its offer. And although the NES didn't set the holiday season on fire in 1985, it sold well enough to earn rollouts in Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco early in 1986, going nationwide by the end of the year. The rest, as they say, is history.
(Thanks to Kotaku and Wired for background on this post)