It was on October 18, 1985 that the first NES console was sold in North America at the famed toy store, FAO Schwartz, in New York City. The initial sales were part of a concentrated test market campaign launched by Nintendo to measure the console’s viability in the West. According to 1UP, the first NES sold that day just happened to be to a Japanese competitor. Titles available upon the initial release included classics such as Duck Hunt and Excitebike — but no Super Mario Bros., consumers would have to wait until the following year for the famed plumber’s stateside appearance.
At the time, the NES seemed like a huge gamble for Nintendo. The NES launch was coming on the heels of a “video game bubble” that included companies such as Atari and Mattel. When the market became saturated with consoles and games, the video game bubble did what bubbles often do and the market was left in shambles. The NES is now recognized as the salvation of the entire industry.
The test, apparently, was successful, and the NES received a full launch the following year. Nintendo went on to dominate a good share of the US video game market and along the way gave birth to some of video game history’s most revered characters such as Mario (and brother Luigi!) and Zelda.
The 8-bit console went on an impressive 10-year run before Nintendo laid the NES to rest in 1995 as more powerful 16-bit systems became popular.
Happy Birthday NES!