The History of Home Console Names

A whole lotta wood paneling and joysticks here…

Since the 1970’s video games have been lighting up living rooms across the globe. Some more than others. Here we will discuss what’s behind each console’s name.

First Generation

Magnavox Odyssey (Computer Museum of America)


Manufacturer: Magnavox/Phillips

Release Date: September 1972

Introductory Price: $99.95 (or $705.24 in 2023)

Discontinued: 1975

Units Sold: 350,000

Prototype/Development names: “Skill-O-Vision” / “The Brown Box”

History of name: While there is no real account of why the system was named the “Odyssey” it’s hard to point any blame at Magnavox or it’s salesmen (who essentially had no idea what the hell they were even selling.)

The definition of the word itself however does suggest there was certainly a nod towards an optimistic future for this new fangled source of entertainment:




  1. a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience.”his odyssey from military man to politician”

Name Grade: 8/10 – The Odyssey gets an eight out of ten solely based on confidence. It takes a special marketing team to silently stare at two blobs slowly following one another on a wood paneled television screen, look at one another and nod in agreement that this product shall share a name with the greatest epic poem of all time.

Second Generation

Fairchild Channel F


Manufacturer: Fairchild Camera & Instrument

Release Date: November 1976

Introductory Price: $169.95 (or $871.72 in 2023)

Discontinued: 1983

Units Sold: 350,000

Prototype/Development names: N/A

Name Grade: 1/10 – According to legend the “Channel F” part of the name took the place of, “Video Entertainment System” once Fairchild started getting pounded in sales by Atari. At that point they decided that they would tell everyone that, “Channel F” actually stood for “Channel Fun”. Which to me is, Channel UU – unbelievably uncool.

RCA Studio II


Manufacturer: RCA

Release Date: January 1977

Introductory Price: $149 (or $761 in 2023)

Discontinued: 1978

Units Sold: 53,000-64,000 (estimated)

Prototype/Development names: N/A

Name Grade: Considering the fact that there was no actual RCA Studio 1 released I have to immediately detract points. You can’t just start at any number you want. This isn’t a Coheed & Cambria record – where they just randomly decide to name their album some random ridiculous and dramatic sentence like: “Deploying The Robot Dream Starfield Secret Vol. 19”.


Manufacturer: Mattel Electronics

Release Date: 1980

Introductory Price: $275 ($1,057 in 2023)

Discontinued: 1990

Units Sold: 3 million +

Prototype/Development names: N/A

History of name: In case you are struggling with the profound imagination’s at Mattel, Intellivision is a portmanteau of, “intelligent television”. More interestingly I found was that Mattel was so worried about Atari hawking all of it’s talented in-house programmers that they never would use their real names to credit them for their programming work publicly referring to them only as, “The Blue Sky Rangers”. Which is a pretty lame thing to call someone you like.

Name Grade: 7/10 – Intellivision proved to survive for an extraordinarily long time despite a fierce rivalry with Atari and a shamefully dumb nickname for its top employees. The name is still popular among retro collectors to this day. Check out this interview with this Intellivision gamer I conducted awhile back.

Atari 2600

Manufacturer: Atari, Inc.

Release Date: September 1977

Introductory Price: $189.95 ($925.53 in 2023)

Discontinued: January 1st 1992

Units Sold: 30 million (as of 2004)

Prototype/Development Names: Originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System (Atari VCS) until 1982.

History of name: While the actual name Atari is named after a term from the board game, Go. In the context of the game, atari, a Japanese term, roughly translates to the English equivalent of “Check” in Chess. When a player’s piece is in imminent danger of being overtaken. From the switch to the VCS to the 2600 – the 2600 part simply came from being named after a manufacturing part, CX2600.

Name Grade: 8/10 – While the name Atari is as synonymous with home consoles as Nintendo is – the 2600 part – while not necessarily groundbreaking it does give it a futuristic feel.


Manufacturer: Coleco

Release Date: August 1982

Introductory Price: ?

Discontinued: 1985

Units sold: 2 million +

Prototype/Development Names: N/A

History of name: The Colecovision was thought up within the first ten minutes of the initial green light that Coleco gave the production team to go ahead and start drawing up plans for a home console. Marketing couldn’t ever overtake it (impossibly) and the rest is history.

Name Grade: 3/10 – They made the name up within ten minutes of so…? I mean, any million dollar new product’s name should probably be given a little bit more thought. That would be like naming your kid, “Pepsi Can” because it’s the first thing you saw in the room after you found out you were pregnant and then having nine full months of thought to change it but never thinking of a better name to call your child than, “Pepsi Can”.

Third Generation

Nintendo Entertainment System

Manufacturer: Nintendo

Release Date: October 18th 1985 (North America)

Introductory Price: $179 ($481.64 in 2023)

Discontinued: August 14th 1995

Units Sold: 61.91 Million

Prototype/Development Name: While in development the NES was called the, “GameCom”.

History of the name: When it was originally released in Japan in 83’ it was called the Home Cassette-type Video Game: Family Computer. Which would later be shortened to the Famicom by designer Masayuki Uemura’s wife. The Famicom also goes by different names all over the world:

Japan: Family Computer/ Famicom

North America: Nintendo Entertainment System

Korea: Hyundai Comboy

India: Samurai

Russia: Dendy (love this)

Name Grade: 10/10 – Nintendo has always made innovation look so easy. Between it’s slick design and simple name (while housing some of the most powerful processors for the time) the name is just a part of the package hailed as the greatest console of all time. The NES single handily saved the entire video game industry from a massive crash in 1983 and restored faith in consumers for home consoles after years of shoddy and disappointing products. It’s simply the best thing to ever happen to gamers and gaming and it’s name is synonymous with that greatness.

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