Generations

It’s been popular for some time now to split video gaming systems in to generally related groupings called “generations”.   The (mostly) universally accepted definition for these appears to stem from Wikipedia.  Exactly what the original source for this set of classifications is I cannot say.

What I can say is that the accepted generations definitions have noticeable issues that make them difficult for me to get behind.  Are Pong clones game consoles?  Does the Atari 2600 belong in the same category as the Colecovison?  And how can a significantly less powerful Nintendo Switch be an example of a “9th Generation” where as the significantly more powerful XBox One X is only an “8th Generation” machine?

There are two principles that stand out for me in order to impose any classification on these systems.  One is Atari’s original intent with the 2600 when they intentionally planned to replace the machine after just three years.  A project that lead to the Atari 400/800 home computers.  The other, is that machines of a generation should be, roughly, graphically equivalent.

With this in mind I propose the following classifications:

GENERATION ZERO (1972-1975)

Magnavox Odyssey

GENERATION ONE (1974-1983)

Atari Pong
Gen Instr AY-3-8500
Gen Instr PC-50x
Magnavox Odyssey 100
RCA Studio II
Nascom 2

GENERATION TWO (1976-1990)

Arcadia 2001
Astrocade
Atari VCS2600
Fairchild Channel F
Interton VC4000
Philips Videopac G7000
Acorn Atom
Commodore VIC-20
Sinclair ZX81

GENERATION THREE – Part One (1979-1992)

CGA Atari VSS5200
CBS ColecoVision
Mattel Intellivision
Acorn BBC Micro
Apple ][
Atari 400/800
Sinclair ZX Spectrum

GENERATION THREE – Part Two (1982-1992)

EGA Amstrad GX4000
Atari VPS7800
Nintendo Ent. System
Sega Master System
Amstrad CPC
Commodore 64
MSX

GENERATION FOUR – Part One (1985-1997)

VGA NEC PC-Engine
Nintendo SuperNES
Sega Mega Drive
SNK Neo-Geo
Acorn Archimedies
Atari ST
CBM Amiga (OCS)
Sharp X68000

GENERATION FOUR – Part Two (1991-1997)

S-VGA 3DO
Atari Jaguar
CBM Amiga CD32
FM Towns Marty
Nintendo SuperFX
Sega 32X
Sega MegaCD
CBM Amiga (AGA)

GENERATION FIVE (1994-2002)

3Dfx
Direct-X 2.0a
Nintendo 64
Sega Saturn
Sony Playstation

GENERATION SIX (1999-2007)

Direct-X 6
Direct-X 8.1
Microsoft XBox
Nintendo GameCube
Sega Dreamcast
Sony Playstation 2

GENERATION SEVEN (2005-2015)

Direct-X 9.0c Microsoft XBox 360
Nintendo Wii
Nintendo Wii-U
Sony Playstation 3

GENERATION EIGHT – Part One (2013- )

Direct-X 11.2 Microsoft XBox One
Nintendo Switch
Sony Playstation 4

GENERATION EIGHT – Part Two (2016- )

Direct-X 12
Vulkan
Microsoft XBox One X
Sony Playstation 4 Pro

GENERATION NINE (2019- )

Google Stadia