In the realm of video games, few names hold as much weight as Nintendo. From arcade machines to the Game Boy and Famicom, the company has left an indelible mark on the industry. However, before these iconic consoles, there were the humble beginnings of Nintendo in the home video game market: the Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15. Released in July 1977, these consoles marked Nintendo’s foray into the rapidly growing world of PONG-type consoles.
The Arrival of Nintendo’s First Console
The Color TV-Game 6 and 15 laid the foundation for the Nintendo we know today—the trailblazer that has shaped the course of video game history. Let’s take a journey back to July 1977 and explore the first Color TV-Game console, which brought Nintendo into our homes.
Background of the Color TV-Game and its Context
Nintendo’s history dates back to 1889 when Fusajiro Yamauchi founded the company, which initially produced Japanese playing cards called “Hanafuda.” Fast forward to 1969, and Hiroshi Yamauchi, Fusajiro Yamauchi’s grandson, became the president of Nintendo. He brought Gunpei Yokoi, a talented engineer, into the company’s research and development department.
Nintendo, seeking to diversify its business, had already made a name for itself in the toy industry. They had introduced several successful products, including the Nintendo Beam Gun, the Ultra Hand, the Ultra Machine, the Ultra Scope, and the Love Tester. These toys, designed by Gunpei Yokoi and other renowned talents, solidified Nintendo’s presence in the market.
In 1973, Nintendo reached a new height with its Laser Clay Shooting System—high-end virtual laser shooting galleries that eclipsed the popularity of bowling, which had been the go-to entertainment for the Japanese since the 1960s. However, the oil crisis of 1973, which caused a sharp increase in oil prices, led to the cancellation of these shooting galleries, and Nintendo had to abandon this line of business.
Meanwhile, the world was undergoing a revolution with the emergence of digital video games. In 1972, Magnavox released the first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, and Atari introduced its hit arcade game, Pong. From that point on, video games began to dominate the market, becoming one of the most lucrative industries.
The arrival of video games in Japan followed a similar pattern to that of other American products. The Japanese imported new technology from the United States, initially through military bases. The Japanese then embraced and improved upon these products, eventually making them their own. This pattern had been observed since the end of World War II with transistors, radios, televisions, and other electronics.
The introduction of video games in Japan unfolded naturally. The Japanese already had a thriving entertainment culture with electromagnetic arcade games from companies like SEGA. So, when digital video games arrived, the Japanese readily embraced them as the logical evolution of the existing analog arcade games.
Numerous consoles and arcades followed suit, gradually evolving and gaining popularity. From Pong clones like Paddle, Tennis, and Hockey to classic games like Tank in 1974, the arcades offered a diverse range of gaming experiences. However, the first generation of home consoles was dominated by various Pong-type consoles, and the true revolution was yet to come.
Let’s summarize what we have covered so far:
- Japan had embraced American entertainment.
- The Japanese economy was booming, attracting workers with high salaries.
- Video games were taking the world by storm.
- American video game consoles and arcades were widely available in Japan.
- Japanese companies were determined to compete with American products.
Development and Launch of the First Two Nintendo Consoles
The Color TV Game consoles came to fruition through a partnership between Nintendo, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and a calculator company called Systec. Systec had developed a Large Scale Integration (LSI) chip based on General Instruments’ technology. They sought Mitsubishi Electric’s manufacturing prowess, but when Systec went bankrupt in the summer of 1976, Nintendo seized the opportunity.
Masayuki Uemura, an engineer in Nintendo’s development team, presented the LSI chip to Nintendo’s president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, proposing the immediate development of a home video game console. Yamauchi agreed, under the condition that the console cost less than 10,000 yen. Thus, Uemura and his team, alongside Mitsubishi Electric engineers, embarked on developing what would become Nintendo’s first console—the Color TV-Game.
The development process was swift, but the biggest challenge was meeting Yamauchi’s price condition. Despite Uemura’s reservations about the feasibility of launching the console at such a low price, Yamauchi insisted on keeping it below 10,000 yen. To address this obstacle, Uemura devised an innovative business strategy that earned Yamauchi’s approval.
Nintendo decided to release two virtually identical consoles with the same features—Color TV-Game 15 and Color TV-Game 6. The Color TV-Game 15 would retail for 15,000 yen and offer 15 games and removable controllers, while the Color TV-Game 6, priced at 9,800 yen, would have 6 games and built-in controllers. The idea was to use the Color TV-Game 6 as an attractively priced entry point to capture the public’s attention. Once in the store, customers comparing the two consoles’ features would likely opt for the Color TV-Game 15. It was a bold marketing strategy that paid off.
On July 1, 1977, Nintendo successfully launched its first two video game consoles in Japan—the Color TV-Game 15 and the Color TV-Game 6. These consoles not only achieved impressive sales figures but also deterred competitors from entering the first-generation video game console market due to their competitive pricing.
While some competitors existed, like Epoch and Bandai, Nintendo’s aggressive pricing set them apart. The Epoch TV Tennis Electrotennis, released in September 1975, was the first Japanese home console, but Nintendo managed to outshine it with their strategic pricing. The Color TV Game consoles proved to be too tempting for Japanese gamers, foreshadowing Nintendo’s future successes.
The Color TV Game consoles served as the foundation for Nintendo’s subsequent consoles, including the Game & Watch and the iconic Famicom, which revolutionized the industry upon its release in 1983. The Color TV Games paved the way for Nintendo’s ascent, making them indispensable pieces of video game history.
The Retro Consoles’ Price Tag
Now, let’s address the burning question: How much did these retro consoles cost? To put the prices in context, here’s a comparison with other consoles released during the same period:
- Color TV Game 6 (1977): 9,800 yen
- Color TV Game 15 (1977): 15,000 yen
Considering the gaming landscape during the first generation of consoles until the advent of the second generation, these prices were quite competitive. Nintendo’s affordable offerings dealt a blow to other companies attempting to enter the market. The technological advancements during that era made older systems quickly obsolete, resulting in a constant battle for market dominance.
Collecting the Original Nintendo Color TV-Game Consoles
If you are a collector of consoles and retro video games, you owe it to yourself to acquire these gems—the Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15. These consoles are not just artifacts; they represent living video game history. At an affordable price point, especially compared to modern systems, they offer a tangible connection to the origins of Nintendo.
While some may argue that the Color TV-Game consoles may not be as playable for those raised on Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, NES, or other later systems, their significance transcends gameplay. They have become museum-worthy pieces that deserve preservation, admiration, and reverence. However, they can still provide a nostalgic gaming experience in moderation.
To acquire an original Nintendo Color TV-Game console, eBay is an excellent place to start. The website offers a range of options, including different models and prices for both the Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15 consoles. Consider the prices and ensure that you make an informed decision before purchasing.
Before you make your purchase, pause for a moment. As an eBay partner, Infoconsolas would like to express our sincere gratitude. Since 2004, our mission has been to preserve video game history through our collection and this website. By buying a console or game through the eBay links provided, you are supporting our endeavors to preserve video game culture. Thank you for your contribution!
The Best Console Games for Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15
As we previously mentioned, the Color TV-Game consoles are dedicated machines, meaning they do not support any external game formats. They come with 6 or 15 games built into the console itself. Consequently, the question of the best games for these consoles becomes more nuanced:
Are the first Nintendo Pong consoles still enjoyable to play?
To answer this, let’s take a look at the Color TV-Game consoles in action:
[Video game footage plays]
After witnessing the gameplay, here’s a scripted response to a common question:
Young Boys: “David, can you still play Color TV Game 6 today?”
Young Boys: “What about Color TV Game 15?”
Young Boys: “But it’s in color, and it looks so fluid!”
Young Boys: “But they’re from Nintendo, and they’re orange!”
Me: “Still nope.”
Unless you have a strong sense of nostalgia and grew up during the 1970s in Japan, the first Color TV-Game consoles may not offer the same level of enjoyment as consoles like the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, or NES. The Pong formula, while historically significant, may not resonate with younger generations.
However, this doesn’t diminish the value of these consoles. They are treasured pieces of video game history, worthy of preservation, observation, and the occasional nostalgic play session. Display them proudly in your collection, treating them with the respect they deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Nintendo Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Nintendo Color TV-Game consoles:
[FAQ section goes here]
External Sources and Links
For further reading on the Nintendo Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15 consoles, check out these external sources and links:
Remember to explore these resources for a deeper dive into the world of these retro consoles.