The Nintendo Family Computer, which quickly came to be known by the abbreviation-loving Japanese simply as the Famicom, was launched in its native land in 1983, a time when the world was still in black-and-white and people travelled to work by horse-drawn cart. It was a grim, unforgiving time, but games like Donkey Kong and Popeye made life that bit brighter, and before long people even had electricity and TV sets to connect their new consoles to instead of just staring at the back of the games’ boxes.

Today, on this space-age date of July 15, 2014, the Famicom turns 31 years old, so we felt it would be a good time to think about just how much we owe this little bundle of plastic and circuitry.

Although not technically Nintendo’s first home console (that honour falls to the awkwardly named “Color TV Game” series of consoles, of which only a limited number were made), the Famicom nevertheless turned what remained of the video game industry following the Atari crash on its head and got people excited about gaming again.

Steadily building a library of stelar software including Super Mario Bros., Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Mother (EarthBound in North America), the Famicom’s success prompted Nintendo to set up shop in the US, where the console was redesigned as the Nintendo Entertainment System many of us adored in our childhood.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 4.56.35 PMWikipedia – Evan Amos

It’s easy to write this little console off as little more than an 1980s toy, but without the Famicom, the NES would never have existed, nor would any of its successors all the way up to the Wii U. Competing consoles such as Sega’s Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis – and with them Sonic the Hedgehog – might never have been dreamed up, and Sony would never have fallen out with Nintendo over a hardware collaboration and gone on to create the PlayStation brand we know today. We may even have eaten each other by now without Nintendo games to take our minds off our innate lust for violence and hunger for human flesh.

So let’s all take a nerdy moment out of our day to remember the Famicom on its 31st birthday. It may not look as sleek as its modern-day offspring, but it – and of course its Western iteration – had a big effect on a great many childhoods, and I can’t imagine I’d be the enormous nerd I am today without it.

Happy birthday, you awkward lump of yellowing plastic, you!


famicomWikipedia – Evan Amos

Feature image: Twitter – Chikyukun edited by RocketNews24