Nintendo Entertainment System
Also known as Family Computer, Famicom
Designer Nintendo R&D2
Publisher Nintendo
CPU Ricoh 2A03 at 1.79 MHz
(1.66 MHz in a PAL NES)
GPU Ricoh RP2C02
(RP2C07 in a PAL NES)
RAM 2 KB
VRAM 2 KB
Media Cartridge
(3½-inch floppy disk via the
Family Computer Disk System)
Release date JP: July 15, 1983
NA: October 18, 1985
EU: September 1, 1986
Added to museum December 25, 1988 (NES)
November 18, 2017 (NES box)

The Nintendo Entertainment System, the second home video game console by Nintendo, was known as the Family Computer, or Famicom, in Japan. It was first released in Japan in 1983, in North America in 1985, and in Europe in 1986.

Nintendo creates a cartridge-based home console

The Japanese Family Computer

Nintendo had already sold several video game systems with games built into them in Japan as part of their Color TV-Game line and designed the light guns, based on their Beam Gun line and their Simulation System, which were used in the Shooting Gallery game for the Magnavox Odyssey console. Nintendo was also a licensee of the Odyssey and sold the system in Japan.

However, by the early 1980s, consoles that read programmable data on cartridge media were replacing dedicated video game consoles that could only play the games programmed into them. Nintendo Research & Development 2, the development team that had previously designed the Color TV-Game line, went to work designing a system that could read media from a cartridge.

The result was the Family Computer, or Famicom, which came with two built-in controllers, and a microphone embedded in the second controller. It was a hit as soon as it released on July 15, 1983 in Japan. The early success of the console was helped in no small part by Famicom ports of Nintendo's popular arcade games, which were also handled by Nintendo R&D2.

Nintendo enters the foreign home console market

North American NES Action Set

By 1985, Nintendo had success in the United States with their arcade games such as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., and their Game & Watch series. However, they had yet to break into the North American home console market. This was coupled with the fact that the video game crash of 1983 caused retailers to be skeptical of video game systems in North America. After the crash, most economists warned that video games were simply a passing fad. At first Nintendo sought an established parter to get their foot in the door, and approached Atari with an offer to market their Family Computer in the United States. However, Atari declined. Instead, Nintendo renamed the system from the Family Computer to the Nintendo Entertainment System, in order to distance themselves from the consoles that contributed to the crash, and took the risky approach of releasing the system in North America on their own.

They redesigned the system in muted black and grey tones, and made a system that loaded cartridges from the front of the system instead of on top. This was done in an effort to resemble the video cassette recorders of the time, so it would blend into the average American entertainment center. It was released in North America on October 18, 1985, and it became a smash hit. By the early 1990s, it had entered the public consciousness to a level where the name Nintendo became synonymous with video game consoles themselves.

The home video game market rebounds in North America

The Nintendo Entertainment System was the major factor that brought the United States video game market back after the North American video game crash of 1983, helped in no small part by Nintendo's approval policy, and their official seal of quality which was printed on each officially licensed cartridge. This strict policy not only limited the amount of games a company could release per year, but since Nintendo of America wanted to project a family image, some violent or sexually suggestive games were censored from their original releases. For the most part though, this system worked in Nintendo's favor, as it prevented the influx of cheaply made games that helped lead to the crash.

Some companies created new branches to get around the game limit. There were also some unlicensed games released on the system that got around Nintendo's protection system, including Atari's games through their Tengen label. Bootleg games and clones of the console were also produced, however these were more prevalent in Asia and Eastern Europe than in North America. However, the censorship and unlicensed releases did little to hurt Nintendo's profits. The NES remained the best selling video game console worldwide for the rest of the decade.

Nintendo Entertainment System outside of North America

The worldwide markets received the same front-loading model as the United States. It was released in Europe on September 1, 1986 and in Oceania in 1987. In Korea, it was licensed by Hyundai and released as the Comboy Nintendo Entertainment System in October 1989.

Japan received the Family Computer Disk System, an add-on that added a floppy disk to the Famicom, as well as improved sound hardware with simple wavetable support. It was released on February 21, 1986, and although it was a success, it was never released outside of Japan. Some of the games that were originally Famicom Disk games were released as cartridge games, sometimes with altered audio from the original due to the lack of wavetable support in the original console.

Additional models of the Nintendo Entertainment System

Sharp, one of the companies who had previously released consoles in Nintendo's Color TV Game line, developed the Twin Famicom. This was a Famicom and Famicom Disk System combined in one unit. A switch on the unit enabled switching between cartridge and disk modes. It was released on July 1, 1986 and was only available in Japan.

The NES-101 model was released on October 15, 1993. This design update addressed the major drawback of the original front loading cartridge system. The cartridge contacts in the system often became dusty, and they became loose over time. Because of this, blowing on cartridges to get them to work became a common theme among gamers in the West. Nintendo remedied this with the NES-101 model system, which loaded games from the top. It also featured an ergonomic “dog-bone” shaped controller, which was very similar to their then-current console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Legacy of the Nintendo Entertainment System

The legacy of the Nintendo Entertainment System remains, even after its heyday. Independent, unlicensed games continue to be produced for the system to this day. Nintendo has capitalized on the system's continuing popularity with a dedicated console that contained modern hardware with an emulator to run the included games. The NES Classic Edition, released as the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe and Oceania, and as the Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer in Japan, was released in the United States on November 11, 2016, right in the middle of the 1980s nostalgia boom. It featured thirty built-in games, HDMI display output for high definition televisions, and a new replica controller which could also connect to the Wii remote for use on the Wii or the Wii U, the latter of which was Nintendo's current home console at the time.

NES games owned by WEC Museum

Title Developer Released Added to the Museum Notes
Dr. Mario Nintendo R&D1 1990 March 8, 2003 WEC Museum owns only the cartridge.
GOTCHA! The Sport! Atlus 1990 September 17, 2018
Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! Nintendo R&D3 1987 February 6, 2000
Super Mario Bros. Nintendo R&D4 1985 December 5, 2018

Emulated NES games owned by WEC Museum

Title Developer Released Added to the Museum Notes
Balloon Fight Nintendo R&D1 1986 January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Balloon Fight is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Balloon Fight is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Balloon Fight is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on Balloon Fight-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
Baseball Nintendo R&D1 1985 January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Baseball is included.
The WEC Museum owns Baseball-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
Battletoads Rare 1991 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Battletoads is included.
Bubble Bobble Taito 1988 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Bubble Bobble is included.
Bumping Sumo Tecmo 1987 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Bumping Sumo is included.
Castlevania Konami 1987 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Castlevania is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Castlevania is included.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Konami 1988 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is included.
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Capcom 1990 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is included.
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 Capcom 1994 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 is included.
Clu Clu Land Nintendo R&D1 1984 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Clu Clu Land is included.
Cobra Triangle Rare 1989 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Cobra Triangle is included.
Darkwing Duck Capcom 1992 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which Darkwing Duck is included.
Digger T. Rock Rare 1990 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Digger T. Rock is included.
Donkey Kong Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
1986 January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Donkey Kong is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Donkey Kong is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Donkey Kong is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on Donkey Kong-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
Donkey Kong Jr. Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
1986 January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math Nintendo R&D2 1986 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Donkey Kong Jr. Math is included.
Donkey Kong 3 Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
1986 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Donkey Kong 3 is included.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge Technōs 1988 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Double Dragon II: The Revenge is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Double Dragon II: The Revenge is included.
Dr. Mario Nintendo R&D1 1990 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Dr. Mario is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Dr. Mario is included.
Downtown Nekketsu March Technōs 1990 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Downtown Nekketsu March is included.
Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari Technōs 1989 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari is included.
DuckTales Capcom 1989 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which DuckTales is included.
DuckTales 2 Capcom 1993 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which DuckTales 2 is included.
Earthbound Beginnings Ape 2015 December 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES version on the Wii U Virtual Console.
Excitebike Nintendo R&D1 1985 January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Excitebike is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Excitebike is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Excitebike is included.
Final Fantasy Square 1990 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Final Fantasy is included.
Final Fantasy III Square 1990 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Final Fantasy III is included.
Galaga Namco 1985
1988
August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Galaga is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Galaga is included.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Namco 1986 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Ghosts 'n Goblins is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Ghosts 'n Goblins is included.
Golf Nintendo R&D1 1985 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Golf is included.
Gradius Konami 1986 August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Gradius is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Gradius is included.
Ice Climber Nintendo R&D1 1985 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Ice Climber is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Ice Climber is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Ice Climber is included.
Kid Icarus Nintendo R&D1 1987 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Kid Icarus is included.
Kirby's Adventure HAL Laboratory 1993 August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Kirby's Adventure is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Kirby's Adventure is included.
The Legend of Zelda Nintendo R&D4 1986
1987
August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which The Legend of Zelda is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which The Legend of Zelda is included.
Mario Bros. Nintendo R&D1 1981
1983
1985
July 29, 2017
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Arcade Archives emulated arcade version of 'Mario Bros. on Nintendo Switch.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of
Mario Bros. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of
Mario Bros. is included.
Mario Open Golf Nintendo R&D2 1991 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Mario Open Golf is included.
Mega Man Capcom 1987 June 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man is included.
Mega Man 2 Capcom 1988
1989
June 3, 2017
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man 2 is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which
Mega Man 2 is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which
Mega Man 2 is included.
Mega Man 3 Capcom 1990 June 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man 3 is included.
Mega Man 4 Capcom 1991 June 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man 4 is included.
Mega Man 5 Capcom 1992 June 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man 5 is included.
Mega Man 6 Capcom 1993 June 3, 2017 The WEC Museum owns Mega Man Legacy Collection for the PlayStation 4, in which Mega Man 6 is included.
Metroid Nintendo R&D1 1986
1987
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Metroid is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of
Metroid is included.
The Mystery of Atlantis Sunsoft 1986 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which The Mystery of Atlantis is included.
Ninja Gaiden Tecmo 1988 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Ninja Gaiden is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which
Ninja Gaiden is included.
Pac-Man Namco 1990
1993
August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Pacman is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which
Pac-Man is included.
Pinball Nintendo R&D1 1985 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Pinball is included.
Punch Out!! Nintendo R&D3 1990 January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Punch Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which
Punch Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream is included.
R.C. Pro-Am Rare 1987 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which R.C. Pro-Am is included.
R.C. Pro-Am II Rare 1992 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which R.C. Pro-Am II is included.
Slalom Rare 1986 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Slalom is included.
Soccer Intelligent Systems 1985 September 17, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Soccer is included.
Snake Rattle 'n' Roll Rare 1990 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Snake Rattle 'n' Roll is included.
Solar Jetman Rare 1990 September 16, 2016 The WEC Museum owns Rare Replay for Xbox One, in which Solar Jetman is included.
Solomon's Key Tecmo 1987 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Solomon's Key is included.
StarTropics Nintendo R&D3 1990 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which StarTropics is included.
Super Contra
Super C
Nintendo 1990 August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Super Contra is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which
Super C is included.
Super Mario Bros. Nintendo R&D4 1985 June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Super Mario Bros. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of
Super Mario Bros. is included.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario USA
Nintendo R&D4 1988
1992
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the Super Mario Bros. 2 is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which
Super Mario USA is included.
Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo R&D4 1988
1990
August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the NES version of Super Mario Bros. 3 is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the Famicom version of
Super Mario Bros. 3 is included.
TaleSpin Capcom 1991 June 4, 2017 The WEC Museum owns The Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, in which TaleSpin is included.
Tecmo Bowl Tecmo 1989 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which Tecmo Bowl is included.
Tennis Nintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
1985 January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Tennis is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on
Tennis-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
Yie Ar Kung-Fu Konami 1985 August 10, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which Yie Ar Kung-Fu is included.
Wario's Woods Nintendo R&D1 1994 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Wario's Woods is included.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Nintendo R&D4 1987
1988
August 10, 2017
June 22, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is included.
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