US tech news websites are wishing the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) a happy birthday, reporting that the platform launched in the United States on 18 October 1985.
While this may not be the anniversary of the launch of Nintendo’s video game console in South Africa, or the original launch of the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) in July 1983, it is significant nonetheless.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the Famicom became available in South Africa, as Nintendo did not officially launch the device in the country.
Instead, the market was dominated by the Famiclone machines which were simply referred to as “TV games”.
The term was applied to just about any console you could connect to a television set, including the Atari 2600, but when you said “TV games” during the 90s in South Africa, it was assumed you were referring to a Famicom-compatible system.
Nintendo of America’s launch of the NES in 1985 is a milestone, as it breathed life into the US video game industry after its crash in 1983.
If it weren’t for the rejuvenation of the industry and the popularity of the console overseas, one could argue that we would not have seen the proliferation of Famiclones in South Africa during the late 80s and early 90s.
Happy birthday, NES, and thank you for the memories.
Headline image courtesy of Gregor Houghton of Retrology.