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18 most important handheld gaming systems

A look back over 30 years: the flops and the successes

Three decades have passed since the debut of Milton Bradley's Microvision - the first handheld gaming console. We look back and chart the highs and lows of handheld video consoles.

Epoch Game Pocket Computer (1984)

In some ways, the Epoch Game Pocket Computer was the spiritual precursor to the Nintendo Game Boy.

This Japan-only console incorporated a nonbacklit black-and-white LCD screen (with 75x64 resolution), worked with small interchangeable game cartridges, and was designed for gamepad-like handheld play, with a directional pad and action buttons.

It failed to take off in Japan, however, and Epoch made only five games for the system.

Photo courtesy of Chris Covell

Nintendo Game Boy (1989)

Nintendo launched its first portable game system, the Game Boy, 20 years ago.

Thanks to the device's long battery life and to hit titles like Tetris, Nintendo has sold more than 100 million units of the original Game Boy line (not including Game Boy Advance) worldwide to date, making it the longest-running dynasty in the video game business.

A few revisions (shown here) kept the line fresh over the years.

See all games reviews

NEXT PAGE: Atari Lynx and NEC TurboExpress

  1. We look at 30 years and the flops and successes
  2. Epoch Game Pocket Computer and Nintendo Game Boy
  3. Atari Lynx and NEC TurboExpress
  4. Sega GameGear and Genesis Nomad
  5. Tiger Game.com and the Game Boy Colour
  6. SNK Geo Pocket Colour and the Bandai WonderSwan Colour
  7. Game Boy Advance and Game Park GP32
  8. Nokia N-Gage and Nintendo DS
  9. PSP portable and the future


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