The Nintendo Family Computer, more commonly called the Famicom, was never released in North America, but this Japanese system is noteworthy as it was the predecessor to the phenomenally successful Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in Japan in 1983, the Famicom was Nintendo's first cartridge-based home video game console and the work of designer Masayuki Uemura, developer of both the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Early Famicom units were plagued with technical problems, causing the company to recall thousands of units for costly upgrades. This was a temporary setback; the system was a hit and Nintendo sold several million units in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Much of Nintendo's success in the video game market, including success with the Famicom, must be credited to legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of such hit games as Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, and The Legend of Zelda. [The museum holds a Famicom in the collection, 107.1289]
Nintendo made modifications to the Famicom, and in 1985 they released the next iteration of the console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in North America. Benefiting from the enormous popularity of Miyamoto's Super Mario Brothers, the follow-on console sold more than 60 million units in the United States and became the best selling console of the late 1980s. The NES is credited with reviving the video game market following the industry-wide downturn of 1983. More than 800 licensed games were released for the system, including hit titles such as Excitebike, Hogan's Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu and Mach Rider.
Nintendo's successor to this popular system was the Super Famicom, released in Japan in 1990, and in the US in 1991 as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Popular titles included Super Mario World, Legends of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Star Fox. The console was a huge success and became the best-selling console of the 16-bit era, and even remained popular well into the 32-bit era. Some consider this console to represent the "Golden Age" of video games, due to its focus on gameplay instead of graphics.