Early Console Game

Release dates

An ongoing source of difficulty for people working on the history of early video gaming is a lack of basic, foundational information, including when they came out. This is unsurprising, as this information was poorly tracked in the west and reconstructing it now involves sifting through a lot of old material, a lot of which isn’t online.

I’ve spent years working on assembling such release date information for a variety of programmable game systems released in the United States (and Canada) between 1976 and 1984, as well as the Atari 7800. These dates are North America-specific except where noted and are as accurate as I’ve been able to get them; refinements will undoubtedly happen as I come across new information. For games released in late 1982 and beyond, the primary source is Computer Entertainer & Video Game Update, a newsletter helpfully scanned online by Frank Cifaldi of the Video Game History Foundation, supplemented by newspaper and dedicated gaming periodicals. Earlier release information is largely sourced from newspaper ads and trade publication coverage. Sources are noted where I remembered to write it down.

Early Space Invaders VCS ad from the February 28, 1980 Madison State Journal.