Nintendo Entertainment System

Made in Japan by Nintendo in 1983
Generation: 3
Units sold: 60000000

Released games per year

838587899193959799010305070911131517192123 280701402100
Called the "ファミリーコンピュータ (Famirī Konpyūta, Family Computer) in Japan, "ファミコン" (Famicom) for short, where it was originally released.

CPU: Ricoh 2A03 @ 1.79 MHz (or Ricoh 2A07 @ 1.66 MHz)
Graphics: 256x240x53 (48 colors + 5 grays)‡
Sound: 5 channels, PCM capable
RAM: 2 KB + OnCartridge
ROM: 48 KB Cartridges (without bankswitching†)
PPU: Ricoh RP2C02 @ 5.37 MHz (Ricoh RP2C07 @ 5.32 MHz)
Sprites size: 8x8 or 8x16 (not both at once)
Max Sprites: 64 sprites (without flicker*)
Sprites per line: 8**
†Bank Switching is extremely common for NES games allowing for very large games. The largest known game cart is 4096 KB.
‡Only 2 shades of 25 colors per scanline, 1 background, 4 sets of 3 tile colors, and 4 sets of 3 sprite colors.
*Using venation blinds effect or tolerating flicker allows considerable more.
**A system to drop a sprite and draw a different one per frame is built-in. But this causes flicker.

Nintendo reports selling 61910000 NES/Famicom units from 1983 to 2007 (±499 units, all regions counted, disk systems not counted)

  • Famicom, Japan: ¥14,800
  • NES (Super Mario Bros. bundle), USA: $199.99 (included two controllers, RF modulator, AV cable)
  • NES Deluxe Set, USA: $249.99 (two controllers, RF modulator, AV cable, R.O.B., Zapper, Duck Hunt, and Gyromite.)
  • NES Action Set, USA: $149.99 (included two controllers, RF modulator, AV cable, Zapper, and "Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt"). This was the best selling set.
  • NES Power Set, USA: $? (two controllers, Power Pad, Zapper, "Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet."
  • NES Sports Set, USA: $? (four game controllers, Satellite IR-or-wired multitap, "Super Spike V'Ball/Nintendo World Cup"
  • NES Challenge Set, USA: $? (two controllers, and Super Mario Bros. 3)
  • NES Basic Set, USA: $? (two controllers, and The Official Nintendo Player's Guide listed details of every licensed game)
  • AV Famicom, Japan: ¥?
  • NES 2, USA: $49.99 (two dogbone controllers, RF modulator)

  • NES, Europe A (United Kingdom, Italia, Australia): ? (?)
  • NES, Europe B (Other European countries): ? (?)

  • NES, Asia: ? (?)

  • Comboy, Korea: ? (?)

Many clones of this console exist :

  • Akor SuperMega III in Hong-Kong
  • Денди (Dendy)
  • Duo FC/Duo FC+
  • 小天才 (The Micro Genius)
  • NES-on-a-chip
  • Pegasus
  • ポケファミ (Pokefami)
  • Samurai
  • Selection SZ-100
  • Super 8 (Tri-Star)
  • Tristar 64

XXX-XX. Japan. The first 3 letters represent the publishing company. There are 3 and 4 digit numbers for the second set for a few games(XXX-XXX, XXX-XXXX)
XXX-XX-JPN. Japan (Rarely used)
XXX-XXX. Japan (Rarely used)
NES-XX-JAP Japan (use only once?)

The Famicom was designed by Masayuki Uemura. It used a Ricoh 2A03 CPU which a slightly customized MOS Technology 6502. It had a top loading 60-pin cartridge port and non-detachable controllers with only the first controller having start and select buttons. The second controller contained a microphone which few games ever made use of. Cartridges were rectangular and flat. It had a forward facing recessed DA-15 expansion port on the bottom-front edge. The port was used for the ファミリーコンピュータ ディスクシステム (Famirī Konpyūta Disuku Shisutemu, Family Computer Disk System) add-on unit as well special controllers like the Zapper, Power Pad, Power Glove, and other accessories. The Famicom outputs a Japanese NTSC signal through an RF modulator only on channel 92 (usually works on North American TVs also, channel 92). A redesigned Famicom featured detachable controllers using the same ports as the NES, no microphone function, and was not renamed to distinguish it from the original. However, it was nicknamed "AV Famicom" and "New Famicom" by fans to differentiate it. The "AV" denoted that it had a composite video output and mono audio output rather then an RF out. Unlicensed and pirated games were very commonly used on the Famicom as piracy is rampant in Asia (and the unit had no features to discourage it). The Famicom was released to Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore starting in 1983. Due to a bad chipset, many early units would crash and were recalled to have their motherboards replaced. The Famicom was slow to catch on, but near the end of 1984, it became the most popular game system in Japan. The market was officially reduced by Nintendo from a mass market in the early 90s and remained officially supported (as a niche market) with consoles and accessories until 2003-10. Adventure Island IV, published 1994-06-24, was the last official game for the Famicom in Japan. Nintendo reports approximately 3000 of their Famicom compatible systems sold in 2004, and less than 500 per year until 2007 when no more stock existed to sell the following year. Without advertising the service, they continued to repair all their Famicom models until 2007-10-31 when they expressly announced they would no longer repair Famicoms due to increasing difficulty of obtaining parts coupled with high demand on their technicians for Wii repairs.

NES-xx-USA United States (Sometimes Canada)
NES-xx-USA/CAN United States and Canada
NES-xx-USA-x United States
NES-xxx-USA United States (rare)
NES-xxxx-USA United States (very rare)
NES-xx-CAN Canada
NES-xx-CAN/FRA France (and game is in French)

The North American NES, used a VCR style front loading mechanism for 72-pin cartridges that were nearly square in shape, a little wider and just as flat as Famicom carts. It is of course standard NTSC. It used a Ricoh 2A03 CPU which a slightly customized MOS Technology 6502. It included a chip called the 10NES reportedly designed to prevent pirated and unlicensed games from playing. This was important because console videogame piracy in the US was almost non-existent and unlicensed American developers seemed incapable of producing competitive games؟¡ Additionally, the 10NES allowed Nintendo to forced publishers to buy all materials, chips and cartridges from them and in the amounts that Nintendo decided (added about $10 per unit in theory, real costs could be as much as $33 per game, if Nintendo planned it well), get all games approved (censored) by Nintendo, limit companies (except themselves) to only 5 new games per year, prevent companies from publishing their games on competing computers or consoles, and it allowed Nintendo leverage over the publishers even when they sold games in other regions. For instance, they previously had no leverage over any Japanese companies; but if they wanted to expand operation to the USA or Europe, they had to submit to being controlled in Japan also. Nintendo also made the licensed companies pay up front and sign a contract that allowed Nintendo to fulfill it's side of the deal at any date they chose (such as 30 years later, should they feel like it). It has been alleged that they delayed supplies for non-Japanese companies as a matter of policy and even delayed specific games from any publisher that might have drawn sales away from their own games. These business tactics eventually got Nintendo sued many times, they usually lost, and they cried, (since these cases never caused a dent in their profits) all the way to the bank. Four extra pins were required for the 10NES chip. 10 new pins connected directly to the NES' bottom expansion port. 2 Pins that allowed games to have their own sound chips were removed, or rather remapped to the bottom port rather that into the NES' sound system (60+4+10-2=72). No add-on hardware was ever created to replaced the in-cart sound chip function. However, the NES did add an 8-bit D-PCM channel. It was mostly used for percussion (check out Solstice), but a few enterprising companies attempted to use it for pre-recorded human voice samples (Galaxy 5000). Famicom cartridges are are easily converted to work on the NES with an adapter. In fact, many early NES games published by Nintendo were Famicom game circuit boards plugged into an adapter and housed inside an NES cartridge (Gyromite and Stack-Up usually). It had both RF and Composite Video+Mono Audio outputs. It can be modified for stereo output and a switch added to turn the 10NES chip off; both mods improve the function of legitimate games, games from other sales regions, homebrew development, and of course pirated games. When the NES outputs a flashing screen without starting the game (as opposed to graphic gibberish or a frozen solid color), this is due to a timing error in the 10NES chip which is aggravated by dirty or bent connection pins. Games will often function normally as soon as the 10NES chip is switched off. In 1993, North America also saw a version of the AV Famicom that was nicknamed "NES 2" after it's product number (NES-002). The NES 2 has RF output only, but can be modded for composite output. The NES 2 also has no lockout chip, which causes some games that were dependent on it to not function and certain Camerica games only work in the opposite mode (A mode or B mode) than when on previous consoles. Also some old non-working licensed games that people had lying around were found to work fine on the NES 2 (because of its lack of a 10NES). Some specialty cartridges, like the Game Genie are problematic due to being slightly larger than the NES 2 port but otherwise function normally. There is currently no published mods to add 10NES function to the NES 2.
Nintendo originally negotiated with Atari to manufacture and distribute the the 'North American Famicom' but negotiations broke down. Nintendo released the NES themselves on 1985-10-18 to limited markets and the full North American market in 1986-02-01 with 18 launch titles. Nintendo published, Wario's Woods, the last game in North America, 1994-12 and Nintendo of American officially discontinued the North American NES in 1995.

The European Region A NES was released in United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand.
NES-xx-UKV United Kingdom
NES-xx-GBR Great Britain (Region A). Great Britain and Italy (Region A).
NES-xx-ITA Italy (Region A)
The European Region B NES was mainland Europe, except for Italy (which was Region A), Including France, the Netherlands, West Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
NES-xx-FRA France
NES-xx-FRA/FRA France (and game is actually in French)
NES-xx-SCN Scandinavia, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
NES-xx-SCN/SWE Swedish Language and Scandinavia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden.
NES-xx-SWE/SWE Sweden (and game is in Swedish)
NES-xx-SWE. Sweden
NES-xx-FRG Germany
NES-xx-FRG/FRG (and game is actually in German)
NES-xx-NOE Nintendo of Europe. Europe/Germany
NES-xx-NOE/FRG Nintendo of Europe. Europe/Germany (and game is in German)
NES-xx-EUR Europe
NES-xx-EEC European Economic Community

Both European NESes used a Ricoh 2A07 CPU which a slightly customized MOS Technology 6502 and differs from the 2A03 only by running slightly slower at 1.66 MHz. Both European NESes contained lockout functions to limit consumers' choices for which games they could play. Region B games and systems were initially distributed by many companies. Region A games and systems were initially distributed by Mattel. In 1990, Nintendo created a European division and began distributing their own products. These systems had composite video and RF modulator like the North American NES. Both systems are PAL. The North American, European A, and European B cartridges all fit in any of these units. However, 10NES and lockout functions inhibit compatibility and even when by passed PAL/NTSC issues must be dealt with. There are no known mods to deal with the different CPU speeds, games will run at different speeds when used on the wrong NTSC/PAL console.
The European NESes and games were not considered that successful, but was still the best selling game system in these regions.

NES-xx-ASI Asia
NES-xx-AUS. Australia.
NES-xx-BZL. Brazil. South America.
NES-xx-ESP Spain
NES-xx-FAH France & Holland
NES-xx-HGK Hong Kong
NES-xx-HOL Holland. Netherlands (North Holland and South Holland).
NES-xx-KOR Korea (South Korea)(for Comboy units)
NES-xx-DAS ? English, German, Spanish

These are a special case. Originally Nintendo would not make a manufacturing run of few than 5000 carts. Later, after many distributors requested a run of fewer than 5000, Nintendo changed its policy for games that had already had a big run. These are additional copies of a game that was already sold in massive numbers, but distributors requested just a few more (say 500 or 2000, instead of 5000 more) to fill the market.

Clone History & Details:
  • Akor SuperMega III in Hong-Kong ?
  • Dendy was the most popular USSR game console in its day. The Dendy played Famicom carts and originally output PAL and SECAM (later models are PAL only). It was an unlicensed clone and used primarily for pirated games as official Famicom systems and games were official denied to Soviet gamers by Nintendo's 黙殺 concerning the market. It was first released in the early 90s by Steepler company. A few unlicensed (by Nintendo) original games in Russian and Chinese were created especially for the Dendy. Several models were made, Dendy Classic, Dendy Junior, Dendy Junior II, and Dendy Junior IIP. It was sold primarily in Russian but made its way to most Soviet Union republics, especially Ukraine. The classic model came with 1 controller and the later models included 2. Additional controllers could be purchased separately. The Dendy junior and it controllers were restyled. The Dendy junior II had two of the restyled controllers permanently attached. The Dendy junior IIP came packaged with a light gun.
  • Duo FC was an 8088 IBM PC-AT compatible computer system with built-in NES hardware $999
    Duo FC Plus was an 80286 IBM PC compatible computer system with built-in NES hardware $1899
    Announced by Leigh Rothschild, president of Duo Computers, in September 1990. The system could display computer or NES game on a TV or VGA monitor. It could use standard PC joystick or NES gamepads for either function. It had ISA expansion slots, serial port, VGA poet and a 80287 math co-processor compatible socket (for an optional math co-processor)
    It was bundled with more than 100 MS-DOS games. Rothschild claimed to have successfully negotiate to by all necessary parts from Nintendo and that the Duo FCs were legitimate. This has been called into question, but their is no truth either way.
  • 小天才 (The Micro Genius) ?
  • The NES-on-a-chip is prettymuch that, although its really a Famicom-on-a-chip. Which is better in some ways. It allows for special sound chips and has no 10NES. It also has limited (very limited) support for the NES'D-PCM channel. Voices that play through the PCM are usually unintelligible. Its also been criticized for generally having inaccurate colors, inaccurate audio, missing sounds, additional glitches, and the inability to run certain NES and Famicom games. However, some of these problems may be due to the quality of the clones they are used in and 10NES/Lockout dependency, not the chip itself, as some of the problems are not universal. The PCM deficiency does however seem universal. Ironically, it shares some of the same deficiencies with the NES 2. This is probably just coincidental occurrence of parallel cost-cutting undesigning. The 82 pins of the chip correspond to the cartridge connector pins in a Famicom, the game port pins, the picture output, reset, power, and all the other externally accessible connectors of the original NES/Famicom. The chip duplicates the function of the Famicom's motherboard (no 10NES or lockouts). A variety of clones have been designed around it.
    These are the pin-outs, courtesy of Kevin Horton:
    Pin Function
    01 -
    02 - PL1C
    03 -
    04 -
    05 -
    06 - PL12L
    07 -
    08 -
    09 -
    10 - PL2C
    11 - +5V
    12 - +5V
    13 - PRG A11
    14 - PRG M2
    15 - PRG A10
    16 - PRG A12
    17 - PRG A9
    18 - PRG A13
    19 - PRG A8
    20 - PRG A14
    21 - PRG A7
    22 - PRG D7
    23 - PRG A6
    24 - PRG D6
    25 - PRG A5
    26 - PRG D5
    27 - PRG A4
    28 - PRG D4
    29 - PRG A3
    30 - PRG D3
    31 - PRG A2
    32 - PRG D2
    33 - PRG A1
    34 - PRG D1
    35 - PRG A0
    36 - PRG D0
    37 - PRG R/W
    38 - PRG /CE
    39 - PRG IRQ
    40 - GND
    41 - GND
    42 - CHR /WE
    43 - CHR /RD
    44 - /CIRAM
    45 - MIRROR
    46 - CR /A13
    47 - CHR A6
    48 - CHR A7
    49 - CHR A5
    50 - CHR A8
    51 - CHR A4
    52 - CHR A9
    53 - CHR A3
    54 - GND
    55 - GND
    56 - CHR A10
    57 - CHR A2
    58 - CHR A11
    59 - CHR A1
    60 - CHR A12
    61 - CHR A0
    62 - CHR A13
    63 - CHR D0
    64 - CHR D7
    65 - CHR D1
    66 - CHR D6
    67 - CHR D2
    68 - CHR D5
    69 - CHR D3
    70 - CHR D4
    71 - XTAL 1
    72 - XTAL 2
    73 - +5V
    74 - VIDEO
    75 - NC
    76 - NC
    77 - AUDIO
    78 - GND
    79 - GND
    80 - /RST
    81 - PL1D
    82 - PL2D
  • In Poland
  • AKA:Pocket Fami. AKA:Pocket Famicom (unofficial nickname). Manufactured by GameTech in 2004. Has the distinction of actually being sued by Nintendo. The court ruled that "most of" Nintendo's patents on the Famicom had long since expired (Ya, the judge said "Most of"). So Nintendo basically publicized the fact that Famicom clones were now legal. Its a portable system with a 2.5 inch LCD screen that accepts 60-pin Famicom carts, outputs composite video, PAL or NTSC, and stereo audio. 72-pin NTSC or PAL games can be played with an adapter. It has ports to accept external NES controllers in addition to the built-in buttons.
  • Samurai ?
  • Selection SZ-100 ?
  • The Super 8 adapter, AKA: Tri-star, is a NES and Super Nintendo converter for the Super Nintendo. It allows NES, Famicom, Super Nintendo, and Super Famicom games from any region to play on a Super Nintendo or Super Famicom from any region. The NES games are not actually running on the Super Nintendo, rather there is an NES-on-a-chip inside that the NES games run on. The Super Nintendo only supplies the electric power. In fact most models of the Super 8 has its own RF out. So its a Famicom clone built into a SNES regional converter. Later models made use of the SNES' RF and AV output, but still didn't use its CPU
  • The Tristar 64, is a NES and Super Nintendo converter for the Nintendo64. It allows NES, Famicom, Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, Gameboy, and N64 games from any region to play on a Nintendo64 from any region. 60pin Famicom carts and GameBoy carts required optional pin adapters to fit them into one of the 3 existing slots (N64+GB, SFC, NES+FC). Once again, the NES/Famicom compatibility was due to an NES-on-a-chip inside the unit, making it a Famicom clone. Additionally it had a cheat function called "X-Ploder" which was essentially an X-Terminator/Game Wizard/Pro Action Replay 2 implemented in software, that could search for codes for any compatible game. This also allowed 'keycodes' to bypass special functions is some cartridges that are designed to resist multi-region or game copier use. There was also a RAM and SRAM browser and archive utility, this data could not be copied of of the device but saved games could be archived and later loaded back into cartridges, thus allowing addition save slots and also direct editing of saved games. The RAM browser let someone take a peek at a game's code in case it was not running because of region or copy protection. Someone who knew what they were doing could then design a code to bypass it (some people did this and the keycodes are available on the web). The unit even included a GS button for activating/deactivating certain cheat codes as needed, like a Game Shark does. Holding the GS button down while turning on the Tristar 64 will cause it to do a keycode search and start a game quickly without having to enter it manually (works for many, but not all games requiring a keycode). Tristar 64s were sold in Japan and the USA.

Question: Why was the NES 2 kicked out of the Secret IC Code Club?
Lack of a-10-NES


tech info

resolution: 256x224x16 colors (52 colors palette), 64 sprites
memory: 2K RAM, 2K VRAM
CPU: Western Design M6502 modified (M6508)
sound: PSG sound, 4 voices mono

All Nintendo systems

Nintendo Entertainment System1983
Famicom Disk System1986
Game Boy1989
Super Nintendo1990
Nintendo 641996
Virtual Boy1996
Game Boy Color1998
Game Boy Advance2000
Nintendo DS2004
Nintendo 3DS2011
Wii U2012
Nintendo Switch2017