Family Computer Network System

This was a dial up network system for the Nintendo Famicom, and consisted of a main unit that plugged into the cartridge slot of the console. A card slot on the top of the unit allowed small cards, not unlike the HUcards used by NEC for their PC Engine console to be inserted to access such things as weather forecasts, game cheats and betting on horse races. There was also a dedicated controller to make data entry far simpler.

Nintendo would use the experience gained with the unit to launch the Satellaview for the Super Famicom a few years later.

Nintendo had already touched on networks with the Disk Fax Kiosks, which were found in 10,000 locations throughout Japan, and allowed players to take their Famicom disks, and upload their high scores onto a central database via fax.

The Famicom Network System was an extension of this, as the company wanted to make the console as central to the home as the telephone. Nintendo's own R & D 2 department developed the hardware, and a partnership with Nomura securities was formed for the financial side.

Initially the system proved unreliable, Nintendo themselves accessed people's homes to trace back the faults.

By 1991 all the services of the network had been shut down, most console owners were used to visiting the malls to carry out most of the functions of the service, Nintendo's president stated that the service was probably a bit too soon, and that consumer demand would catch up.

The early problems had shaken the consumers faith in the system, but still managed sales of 130, 000 units, but only managed an average of 20,000 users for it's services, the most used service was horse racing betting, but this could be as easily achieved by conventional means, and users did not like to have to modernise their phone systems for a second line, and also did not like having to unplug their existiing line for it's use.

Although a product marketed too soon, it was an early glimpse of what was to come in less than a decades time with the arrival of the internet.

Date : September 1988

Manufacturer : Nintendo

Format : Network

Physical Description : card box top Poly bottom Main Unit Controller

Provenance :
Early attempt to create a large scale information network

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH64060. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Scan of Document: Family Computer Network System

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