How home entertainment has evolved over the years

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Published: 07th January 2011
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It's strange to think about what people did with their minds and hands before we had home computers, video game consoles and other kinds of electronic entertainment. Human hands seem perfectly contoured to fit joysticks and mice -- or maybe it is the other way around?

Home entertainment has changed dramatically with both the computer and video game industries. Now those two industries are rapidly merging into 1 thing.

Have you heard of the Magnavox Odyssey? It was the first widely-released game console, introduced in 1972. But Atari was soon at the top of the video game market because of the bouncing ball game called Pong. People were captivated by it.

It wasn't long before computers like the Commodore 64 and the Tandy Color Computer began competing with game consoles for the time and money of tech-savvy consumers. While some homes had both a computer and a game console, many had one or the other. Both these items were expensive, and consumers had to choose between the versatility of a home computer and the superior controllers and graphics of xbox 360 console.

Soon, names like RCA, Intellivision and Nintendo entered the video game market while Apple, IBM and a wide range of clones took over home computing. Speed and graphics quality advanced on video game systems and PCs, and new game releases would briefly put one company ahead of another until still another new development changed the industry once more.

Home computers reached prominence at the end of the 1990s, when most homes had at least 1 computer, and they have shown no signs of decline. Game consoles have not reached that level of proliferation, but they continue to gain in popularity regardless of temporary corrections in the market.

For decades game consoles depended on joysticks and computers depended on mice and occasional touch pads and trackballs. However, in 2006 the Nintendo Wii was introduced, marking the beginning of games with no physical controls. Game console designers have also added Internet connections and the capacity to surf the web to their consoles, eliminating the requirement for a personal computer in house holds where computers aren't needed for business applications.

In addition to video games that sense motion and do not need controllers, the future also holds further integration between television, gaming, the Internet and home computers.

Before long one cheap device plugged into a high-tech, wall-mounted monitor will offer users a comprehensive entertainment experience. In actual fact, some televisions being released available on the market in a few years will offer almost every gaming alternative users can dream of -- and they are already equipped for ones that designers have not even thought of as yet.

But don't worry. Retro will always be in, too. Pong is still available for most gaming formats -- and it still sells like it's 1975.

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