Nintendo Famicom Teardown

Opening the Nintendo FamicomIt’s day four of our week of game console teardowns. We borrowed a hot tub time machine, went directly to 1983, and acquired a Japanese national treasure: the Famicom!

We partnered with Wired for this teardown to bring you a glimpse of one of the most popular game consoles ever. Check out their story!

For those of you ill-versed in gaming consoles, the Famicom — short for Family Computer — is the name of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Japan. Join us as we delve into the system that revolutionized the gaming world as we know it.

Teardown highlights:

  • The Famicom was the first console to incorporate D-pad controllers to acquire user input. Departing from the era of joysticks, the inclusion of the D-pad allowed for quick and accurate controls.
  • The second controller has a built-in microphone and a volume switch at the expense of the central “select” and “start” buttons. This is the only console we know of that has a microphone on one of its standard controllers.
  • You won’t be able to lose a controller unless you also lose your machine. They’re attached internally via two old-school connectors, so you’ll have to take apart the machine if you want to disconnect a controller.
  • The Famicom’s miniscule 4W power supply won’t be popping fuses anytime soon. That’s about 2.5% of the power that the Xbox 360 devours.
  • Famicom technical specifications:
    • Ricoh 2A03 8-bit 1.79 MHz processor (MOS Technology based on the Motorola 6502 8-bit processor core)
    • Ricoh RP2C02G-0 8-bit, 5.32 MHz PPU (Picture Processing Unit)
    • 2KB (16kb) on-board RAM
    • 2KB (16kb) on-board Video RAM
    • PSG (programmable sound generator) Sound
    • 256 x 240 pixel resolution
  • Unsurprisingly, lead solder abounds on the bottom of the board. RoHS standards weren’t established until 20 years after this puppy was made.
  • Ejecting a game cartridge is accomplished by pushing two inclined planes underneath the cartridge until it pops off the motherboard connector.
  • Opening the game cartridge reveals a 60 pin printed circuit board. This PCB (from a Tennis cartridge) has two ROM packages — totaling 24 KB — soldered to it. A single layer Blu-ray disc has 25,000,000 KB capacity!
Removing the motherboard during the Nintendo Famicom teardown
Removing the motherboard
Nintendo Famicom teardown
Final layout