History of Consoles: Nintendo Famicom Disk System (1986)



Console: Famicom Disk System

Manufacturer: Nintendo

 Availability: February 21st, 1986



The Famicom Disk System (FDS) was as an extra peripheral released for the Nintendo Famicom on February 21st, 1986. The Famicom Disk System was initially announced for North America and PAL regions, but it was never released outside of Japan.  Nintendo supported the Famicom Disk System from 1986-2003, and in total 4.44 million systems were sold.





The Famicom Disk System used proprietary floppy disks called “Disk Cards” by Nintendo that stored data.  The unit would connect to the Famicom system by a RAM Adapter through the Famicom’s cartridge port.  The Disk Cards were all double-side and had a total storage capacity of 112 KB per disk.  There were many games that required the user to flip over the disk in order to access all of the data for the games.

Back in the mid 1980’s 112 KB of storage space was impressive and very appealing for programers.  The Disk Cards were also rewritable which opened up new possibilities for games including Kid Icarus and The Legend of Zelda, because it enabled the user to save their games.  Up to this point the game cartridges didn’t have any internal batteries  for battery-backed memory to save games, so games were using the password feature.

Back in the early to mid 1980’s manufacturing game rom carts was very expensive and cost the consumers 5000 yen ($61.56 USD).  This high cost made it hard for the consumers to dish out money to buy new games, so Nintendo answered with turning the carts into disks.  Once someone owns a disk, they are able to copy over it as many times as they want as long as the disk holds up.  Many department stores all across Japan had Disk Writers which were kiosks where customers could “burn” a new game onto their disk.

The ability to rewrite data onto the Disk Cards was also turned out to be a big problem with Nintendo because of piracy problems.  People were copying games and sharing games illegally which cost Nintendo a lot of money. This caused Nintendo in 1988 to suddenly kill the Disk System because of heavy pirating of games.


The Famicom Disk System is red to match the same color scheme as the Famicom System.  It also has a disk slot in the front, and a yellow eject button.  The Famicom Disk System could run off a separate AC power supply, but could also run off of six C-cell batteries.  The reason Nintendo enabled the Famicom Disk System to run off of batteries was in case a user didn’t have enough power outlets to power the system on its own.  The six C-cell batteries would usually last up to five months with daily game play which is quite impressive.


On July 1st, 1986 Sharp released The Sharp Twin Famicom which was a Famicom and Famicom Disk System built into one system.  The Twin Famicom came in two colors; black and red/pink color.




In total there are 229 Famicom Disk System games. Many of the more notable ones include The Legend of Zelda and Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic (rebranded in the Western-market as Super Mario Bros. 2.

Famicom Disk System Launch Titles:

  • Baseball
  • Golf
  • Mahjong
  • Soccer
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Tennis
  • The Legend of Zelda

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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