Most gamers in 2020 have never heard of it, but a machine called the Nimatron is widely considered the world’s first modern gaming computer. Invented by nuclear physicist Dr. Edward Condon, the Nimatron was a 12-foot tall contraption that allowed users to compete against a crude form of artificial intelligence in Nim, the classic game of mathematical strategy. It was such a sensation when it debuted in 1940 at the New York World’s Fair, thousands lined up to challenge the Nimatron to over 100,000 games (it won 90,000 of them).
As amazing as that was in 1940, gaming machines have come a long way since the bigger-than-a-bookshelf computers that played one game only. They’ve even advanced far past the bulky, desktop-gobbling gaming PCs that dominated the market just a few years ago, thanks to brands like Micro-Star International that have pushed gaming laptops into a new era of portable power with models like the GS66 Stealth and GE66 Raider that combine performance and style like never before. Read on for a look at the many, welcome ways gaming machines have evolved over the years.
Downsizing in a Big Way (1960s - 1970s)
Nearly 30 years after the Nimatron, Dr. Ralph Baer created the “Brown Box,” a 16-inch gizmo that hooked to your TV and played games like ping pong and checkers. Now, gaming fit into any home with a TV — electronics giant Magnavox saw that potential and brought the device to market in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey. It sold over 300,000 units in three years: a modest hit, but one that hinted at the potential of electronic gaming.
The iconic Atari 2600 was released soon after in 1977. It cost $199 ($840 today), and boasted a then-blazing 1.19 MHz processor, with 128 bytes of RAM. It was the first home system to feature modern joystick controllers, and popularized swappable cartridges. Sales skyrocketed after the release of Space Invaders in 1980, and hundreds of gaming companies were born in the wake of that success. The gold rush to find the next great gaming system was on.
The Rise of Desktop Gaming (1970s - 1980s)
Gaming moved from consoles to desktop with the release of the iconic Apple II (1977) and Commodore 64 (1982) computers. The Apple II launched the home computer craze, bringing an 8-bit, 1.023 MHZ processor and 4 kB of RAM into people’s homes for $1,298 (that’s $5,500 today). It wasn’t built specifically for play, but Apple chiefs Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs had cut their teeth designing games for Atari and knew there was a consumer appetite for home gaming systems. It also let people design their own games using BASIC, leading to the creation of a dedicated community that shared source code for different games. The Commodore 64—named because of its then-staggering 64 kBs of RAM—made home computing affordable and hosted dozens of iconic games. It also sold millions of units during its initial run, becoming the affordable alternative to the Apple II: it cost $595 at release, or about $1,500 today.
Gaming Gets Sleeker (1980s - 1990s)
Console gaming made leaps and bounds throughout the ‘80s with the massive popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) — launched stateside in 1985, it sold 34 million units — and Sega’s 16-bit Genesis which blew minds when it launched in 1989, and spurred Nintendo to up its game with its own 16-bit system in 1991: the “console wars” were officially on.
The PC gaming revolution also continued, with processors speeding up to 32 bits, and transformational graphics cards like the NVIDIA NV1 and the ATI Rage 1 allowing developers to push the limits of gaming. Still, gaming machines were bulky and expensive for the average consumer. Gaming laptops started to make an appearance — but they were heavy as lead and could cost up to $8000 — that’s $14,000 in today’s dollars.
Gaming Goes Stealth Mode (2000s - Present)
It wasn’t until the 2000s that power and cost began their rapid decoupling, leading to gaming machines that were as fast as they were affordable. Micro-Star International became a pioneer in the field of gaming laptops with the launch of its GX600 in 2007. Reviewers praised its combination of “strikingly elegant design” (then a rarity in the world of gaming laptops), with turbo-charged processing and vivid display that made “gamer’s hearts leap for joy.” Its success led Micro-Star to devote itself to developing even better-looking, more stylish machines.
Micro-Star International’s next leap forward was its GS60 Ghost laptop. Introduced in 2014, it was one of the first laptops to feature a powerful graphic card in a thin and light chassis — an advancement only possible due to the brand’s significant investment in developing a next-generation cooling system that keeps your rig running. The GS60’s then-revolutionary combination of speed and design was praised by reviewers as a “gorgeous, sleek powerhouse,” while also being “one of the lightest gaming laptops around.” At $1,699, it also signaled a new era of affordability.
Today, Micro-Star International continues to push the limits of portable power with dual flagship laptops made for the modern gamer. Both the GS66 Stealth and GE66 Raider are bringing mobile gaming to new heights, with options including an NVIDIA®️ GeForce®️ RTX 2080 SUPER graphics card, a 10th Gen. Intel®️ Core™️ i9 processor, powerful 99.9 Whr batteries, and 300hz refresh rate display. The GS66 is a sleek and subtly designed machine, with a pure black chassis making it ideal for gamers on the go (or gamers in stealth mode). The GE66’s “mystic light” allows you to customize the machine’s keyboard and chassis lighting, letting you tailor your computer’s feel in vivid color. Meanwhile, the brand works with partners like Dynaudio to make the audio experience uniquely immersive, and continues to innovate with Tobi on next-gen eye tracking technology.
Gaming’s come a long way since Dr. Condon’s massive Nimatron; you no longer need a forklift to transport your gaming device, and today’s razor-thin laptops pack more power than giant rigs of just 10 years ago. If the past is any hint, you can expect lots more gaming power in the near future.