We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Pictures: Games and gadgets of Christmas past

While some were innovative, not all were all big sellers

We take a look back at some games and gadgets of Christmas past. While some were innovative, not all were all big sellers

Some of the technology that made the museum's 'gadgets' list weren't necessarily best sellers, but they were innovative. For example, Bytes for Bites: The Kitchen Computer, was rolled out in 1969 before the PC era, "to store recipes". The Kitchen Computer went for the bargain price of $10,600 (£6,791). For that, you got the computer, a cookbook, an apron - and a two-week programming course.

Inside the futuristic packaging with a built-in cutting board was a standard Honeywell 316 minicomputer. The console featured binary switches and lights.

Other big sellers of the past 40 years included the Speak & Spell, a children's toy from Texas Instruments. In 1978, Speak & Spell contained speech synthesiser electronics and software, a keyboard, display and slot for ROM-based library modules. It helped children learn to spell the words they spoke into it.

In 1982, cashing in on the fame of World Chess Champions such as America's Bobby Fischer and the Soviet Union's Anatoly Karpov, Milton Bradley came out with its GrandMaster chess game. This chess-playing machine was part robot: magnets underneath moved real pieces for the computer and the pressure-sensitive board could detect the human player's move.

The software, designed by chess expert David Levy's company, was considered weak in the opening and closing, but a strong middle game earned it a 1550 chess rating. For $500 (£320), you could match strategic wits against a computer.

The DG-10 Digital Guitar from Casio was a big seller in 1983. Encouraged by its success with inexpensive digital keyboard synthesisers, Casio expanded into guitars. The strings are mostly for decoration and for controlling strumming amplitude, since finger position on the rubber fretboard determined the pitch.

In 1989, Nintendo came out with the Game Boy, a hand-held gaming system that became one of the longest-selling consoles in history. Its initial success came from the release of Tetris, a Russian-designed puzzle game. Game Boy, and the later Game Boy Colour, sold more than 100 million units over 20 years.

Photo: Mark Richards

Following on the Game Boy's success, Sony in 1994 came out with its PlayStation video game console. The console originally began as a collaboration with Nintendo, which later dropped out.

Sony's PlayStation sold more than 100 million units and led to three successful follow-ons: the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable .

NEXT PAGE: More 1990s big-sellers

  1. Innovative but not big sellers
  2. Kitchen computer
  3. More 1990s big-sellers


IDG UK Sites

Where to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the UK: Launch day price, deals and contracts

IDG UK Sites

Is Apple losing confidence in itself?

IDG UK Sites

Professional photo and video techniques for perfect colours

IDG UK Sites

How (and where) to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the UK. Plus: What to do if you pre-ordered...