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1975-2015 - Building a timeline of computer and video game history

by Felipe Pepe on 03/28/17 09:39:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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One thing that always bothered me is that whenever we casually talk about video game history, what we usually end up with is something like this:

A timeline divided into console generations, showing the big console and game releases. Cool.

But where's the Apple II, C64. Amiga, Spectrum ZX and the IBM PCs? Where are world-changing technologies like CD-ROMs, smartphones, the mouse or the Internet? 

Sadly, video game history is often "abridged". This is just a  graph, of course, but even in the narrative of mainstream websites we rarely hear anything on the history of pre-Windows 95 computers.

And I don't blame malice or "those damn millennials". There are several complicated factors in play.

One is that consoles were indeed much more popular than 70's & 80's computers. Other is that home computers don't have platform owners promoting their history - Commodore, IBM, Atari, Sinclair, etc, all closed down or left the business, and Apple never showed to care about Apple II games. Bloody ingrates.

But the biggest problem is how complicated their history is. Consoles are divided into eight cute and self-contained generations, but learning about home computers requires understanding things like what's a goddamn IBM PC-Compatible or the difference between CGA, EGA and VGA. 

Yes, this information is available online - "just read Wikipedia". But it's a terrible approach to take a 16-year old that was born after Halo and send a 15,000+ words Wikipedia page just to know "what's an IBM PC". And even if he did, he lacks the historical context about the Apple II, C64, etc.

A 70's computer to someone from the 2017 is as shocking as a 2017 computer to someone from the 70's. Just watch a bunch of teenagers in awe of a Windows 95 PC if you need proof (and wanna feel old). 

As such, while working on the CRPG Book I decided to create a timeline of ALL types of video games - one that would be visually pleasing, easily shareable and ease in readers of any background. 

Over 16 pages (or 8 pngs) I tried to give a notion of the importance of each event and machine, building a road map - self-contained enough to be understood without checking Wikipedia, but leaving hooks that point readers towards places that can later be explored in-depth on their own.

So, without further ado, here's the full timeline gallery:

And here I would like to invite you all to give it a read and share your opinions. I must warn beforehand that my background is in Marketing, not Computer Science, so I tend to focus on the Macro Environment a lot - and probably made a technical mistake or two along the way.

If you spot anything wrong of have any suggestions, please comment or e-mail me at [email protected] . Consider this article a request for "peer review" - or an Early Access. ;)

PS: I know that the timeline is currently confusing to read and I'm already working on a better way to show the years & months. Cheers!

EDIT (11/04/2017): I've since updated the timeline with your suggestions and included it in the new release of the CRPG Book:

Thanks for the feedback!

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