Home Brew Heroes is a website and blog run a by a small team of retro gaming and computer enthusiasts. We feature our favourite computers and video consoles dating back from the late 1970s, 80s and 90s – (some of our guys can even remember buying these new). If you are wondering why? Then that’s easy, you can do so much with older machines and it’s great to reminisce with like-minded people that stir up personal memories from the past.
If you are looking to play some flash retro games online then Mark Benson’s website has for example, some good train games. These can be access directly via your web browser.
Whether you like PC, Nintendo or Atari you are most welcomed here. Be sure to leave a comment or get in touch via email. Our aim is to build a fully functioning resource website with user guides, emulators and games library for reference. To wet your appetite here a few old machines that you might remember from years gone by…
Atari VCS 2600
The first cartridge based video gaming system and probably one of the most instantly recognisable machines ever. The Atari VCS 2600 was produced in 1977 after a huge level of investment (over a hundred million dollars). The rise of the arcade machines in the 70s where Ping Pong was a worldwide hit led to Atari manufacturing the VCS.
Despite sales being poor in the first year this console really took off in the early 80s and millions were then sold in the early 80s to establish Atari as the number one home video gaming manufacturer. With only 4 on board chips the VCS was replaced by the more advanced 5200.
Sinclair ZX 81
Weighing just over 12ozs and having a base RAM of 1k is the Sinclair ZX-81. In 1981 this machine was introduced on the market costing almost $150 fully assembled. The NEC CPU was in all honesty not up to much but there was available to buy a printer called the Sinclair Thermal Printer which connected via the ROM BASIC operating system.
The keyboard was not very responsive because of the hard coated plastic covering. It was however durable and tough and was later unfavourably labelled as the “Brick”. Despite the memory being expandable the TV output was black and white only. With nearly a quarter of a million units sold in 1981 the ZX81 was commercially successful and led to the later ZX Spectrum.
With over 17 million units sold worldwide the Commodore 64 is one of THE success stories of 80s computing. The MOS6510 CPU and 64k of RAM enabled users to play the most advanced games of the day and programmers to code new and exciting software utilities.
It was also the first time that you could “accessorise” your PC. Printers, plotters, floppy drives and even a dial up modem were all available for users to buy. For music buffs the on board sound chips brought audio in to the home and as more and more units sold the quality of the machine also improved.
Style, quality and marketability – the Commodore 64 had it all and it’s no surprise it is featured on home brew makers featured list of iconic machines.
A new space age look (Moonraker anyone?) and an expensive price tag of nearly $600 the super sleek Atari 520ST hit the US stores in February 1985. The main rival to the Commodore 64, The 520ST had an identical CPU, the Motorola 6800 and later versions had an inbuilt floppy drive.
The comparisons between the 520 and the Commodore continued with the Graphical User Interface which incidentally was like the Macintosh. The later version, called the 1040ST had upgraded RAM of 1MB.
Sega Mega Drive
In 1988 video consoles had their first 16bit device and consumers lapped it up. The Sega Mega Drive was both robust and had the capability to truly replicate arcade games on to the smaller screens. With over 30 million units sold worldwide many experts agree that this device was the reason why now legendary gaming characters and titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, FIFA and Madden Football was able to last years after inception.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
The battle between the Mega Drive and the SNES was fierce but Nintendo had the upper hand because of the superior technical spec of their console and also it had a much bigger games library. Some of the most famous console games of all time such as Street fighter and Final Fantasy help to propel the console in to being the market leader throughout the 1990s.
The SNES is so popular, even today there is a huge following of this console. There are fancies dedicated in re-living the games on the SNES by way of emulation – this is when you can play game such as Street fighter or R-Type on your computer. As technology advanced on to 32-bit compact disc based devices the SNES position still held strong for a number of years.