History of Consoles: Nintendo Famicom (1983)


Console: Famicon

Manufacturer: Nintendo

Availability: July 15th, 1983

Price: ¥14,800 ($186) $432.15 including inflation


In the early 1980’s Nintendo had a very successful arcade line of games including among others Popeye, Mario Bros and of course the Donkey Kong games.  Nintendo had produced other home gaming consoles in the late 1970’s as part of their TV Game systems which were essentially Pong clones.  It was because of the success of the arcade games that Nintendo decided to port many of their arcade hits to the home consumer market, and in doing so created the Nintendo Famicom.

The Nintendo Famicom (named meaning “Family Computer”) was released on July 15th, 1983 and retailed for ¥14,800 or $186 USD.  Initially when the Famicom was released sales were very slow, and many of the consoles had a faulty chip in them.  Nintendo soon recalled the first batch of Famicoms and quickly addressed the issue. Shortly thereafter, the Famicom became the best-selling game console in Japan in 1984.   It was because of the success of the Famicom in Japan that Nintendo decided to export the system to North America and the rest of the word, and re-brand it as the “Nintendo Entertainment System”, better known as the NES.


The  Famicom was designed by Masayuki Uemura and varies significantly from the NES counterpart.   The Famicom is cream white in color with a dark red boarder, eject button, and power and reset buttons.

The Famicom isn’t region locked per say, however both the Famicom and NES had different pin sizes for the cartridges, so you can’t play each games on the other without an adapter.  The Famicom has a 60 pin cartridge design, while the NES has a 72 pin cartridge design. Since the Famicom only has a 60 pin cartridge design, the games are much smaller, approximately half of the size of the NES game cartridges.

The Famicom also features a cartridge slot at the top of the console where the cartridges plug into, unlike the NES “Toaster” models where the games slide in from the front of the console.  Also, unlike the NES the Famicom doesn’t feature the 10NES lockout chip. The 10NES lockout chip was built into the NES to avoid third party companies from making pirated games.

The original Famicom features an RF cord, however later on Nintendo released the redesigned AV Famicom console (looks a lot like the NES model 2 top loader) that featured AV cables.


Similar to the NES controller, the Famicom Controllers feature a “B” and “A” button, a directional pad, and “select” and “start” buttons in the middle.  The controllers are dark red with a gold plate finish, and unlike the NES, are hardwired into the console.  The player 1 controller has a very unique built in mic that can be used in games including The Legend of Zelda when a player yells into the controller.



The Famicom featured some very unique peripherals that weren’t released for the NES. The most famous being the Family Computer Disk System (review coming soon).  Nintendo also released a MODEM for the Famicom, 3D glasses,  as well as a Family Network System among others.

 Top 10 Famicom Games:  

1) Dragon Quest 3

2) Super Mario Bros

3)  Super Mario 3

4) Final Fantasy 3

5) Dragon Quest 4

6) Dragon Quest 2

7) Dragon Quest

8) Legend of Zelda

9) Mother

10) Mario Bros

Interesting Fact: 

The first wave of NES games that were produced for the North American market actually featured the Famicom 60pin board with adapter built inside the cartridge.  The way to know if you have one of these original games is to look at the back and see if there are five screws.  If there are five screws, then you can unscrew it and use the adapter for other Famicom games to play on your NES!  

What games you like for the Nintendo Famicom?

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About Gamester81

John "Gamester81" Lester started playing video games at a very young age. His first ever console that he played was a Colecovision, quickly followed by an Atari 2600, and his passion for video games hasn't stopped. In 2008 John decided to start a video game review show on YouTube called Gamester81 by reviewing rare and retro video game systems and games. His show quickly grew in popularity, and he became friends with many other gamers in the YouTube community. He is also one of the hosts of the All Gen Gamers Podcast which is a bimonthly podcast for people and video games of all generations. Some of John's other hobbies includes collecting Star Wars memorabilia (YouTube channel Starwarsnut77), playing classic arcade games (YouTube channel Gamester81Arcade), watching sports, and listening to music. John is a big fan of the 80's and 90's and in 2009 started a YouTube channel called NEStalgiaholic where he talks about nostalgic items and memories from his childhood. To see some of John's video's in 3D visit his YouTube channel Gamester81in3D. Favorite Systems: Colecovision, Commodore 64, NES, & SNES. Favorite Games: Donkey Kong Arcade, Atari Star Wars Arcade, Super Mario 3, Final Fantasy II, & Goldeneye 007