History of the video game controller

We've struggled to form a bond with our consoles. The black/grey boxes that have ruled hours of our lives have always sat in the same space under the increasingly thinning TV, churning out dream worlds and adventures - but we've never been excited by their vital statistics or angular looks.

It's the controllers that we've connect with. We've thrown them at walls during death matches, hurled them in celebration after successful boss battles, held them close to us like the hand of a dear friend.

From the Magnavox Odyssey slider to the PlayStation 4 DualShock, we've documented the most important evolutionary steps in the life of the humble video game controller - from a scrolling wired slab to a news-grabbing gaming event. Triggers, buttons and motion sensors galore, this is the history of the video game controller.

Show Gallery

  • Magnavox Odyssey 100 (1972)

    Magnavox Odyssey 100 (1972)

    The first commercial digital video game console for the… More details

  • Magnavox Odyssey Shooting Gallery (1972)

    Magnavox Odyssey Shooting G…

    This remarkable rifle was actually the first 'light gun'… More details

  • Atari Home Pong console (1975)

    Atari Home Pong console (1975)

    The take-home version of the game that started it all, the… More details

  • Fairchild Channel F (1976)

    Fairchild Channel F (1976)

    The first of the "second generation" consoles… More details

  • Coleco Telstar Arcade (1977)

    Coleco Telstar Arcade (1977)

    The most extravagant example of a controller contained in… More details

  • RCA Studio II (1977)

    RCA Studio II (1977)

    While other second generation consoles were trying new and… More details

  • Atari 2600 (1977)

    Atari 2600 (1977)

    The first recognisable console joystick arrived with… More details

  • Atari 5200 SuperSystem (1982)

    Atari 5200 SuperSystem (1982)

    While a number of 'pads with numbers and dials' designs… More details

  • Casio PV1000 (1983)

    Casio PV1000 (1983)

    Made by the same chaps who make digital watches, the PV1000… More details

  • Nintendo Entertainment System (1983)

    Nintendo Entertainment Syst…

    Things really started hotting up for gaming in the 1980s.… More details

  • Sega Master System (1985)

    Sega Master System (1985)

    Sega's plucky Master System looked to overthrow the… More details

  • Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (1988)

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (1988)

    As the fourth generation of consoles rolled around in the… More details

  • Commodore 64 Games System (1990)

    Commodore 64 Games System (…

    The Commodore 64 Games System never shared the same success… More details

  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990)

    Super Nintendo Entertainmen…

    A rounded evolution of the NES controller, the SNES… More details

  • Sega Activator (1993)

    Sega Activator (1993)

    Long before the interactive days of the Wii or the Kinect,… More details

  • Atari Jaguar (1993)

    Atari Jaguar (1993)

    In the fifth generation of consoles, some of the old giants… More details

  • Neo Geo CD (1994)

    Neo Geo CD (1994)

    An expensive console yielded an interesting controller, if… More details

  • Sony PlayStation (1994)

    Sony PlayStation (1994)

    The icon that introduced us to a world of triangle, square,… More details

  • Apple Bandai Pippin (1995)

    Apple Bandai Pippin (1995)

    Apple's console was short-lived, due in part to the… More details

  • Nintendo 64 (1996)

    Nintendo 64 (1996)

    When Nintendo announced the successor to the SNES, no one… More details

  • Sony PlayStation DualShock (1997)

    Sony PlayStation DualShock …

    The greatest controller of all time? The DualShock set the… More details

  • Sega Dreamcast (1998)

    Sega Dreamcast (1998)

    Ushering the sixth generation of consoles, a poor Japanese… More details

  • Nintendo GameCube (2001)

    Nintendo GameCube (2001)

    The significance of the Nintendo GameCube controller was in… More details

  • Microsoft's 'Fat' Xbox (2001)

    Microsoft's 'Fat' Xbox (2001)

    The original controller for Microsoft's Xbox raised a… More details

  • Nintendo Wiimote and nunchuck (2006)

    Nintendo Wiimote and nunchu…

    In looking to capture that rare beast, the 'casual gamer',… More details

  • Microsoft Xbox 360 S (2005)

    Microsoft Xbox 360 S (2005)

    As far as we're concerned, Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller… More details

  • Microsoft Kinect (2010)

    Microsoft Kinect (2010)

    Holding the record for "fastest selling consumer… More details

  • Nintendo Wii U Gamepad (2012)

    Nintendo Wii U Gamepad (2012)

    Another Nintendo console defined by its controller, the Wii… More details

  • Microsoft Xbox One (2013)

    Microsoft Xbox One (2013)

    Microsoft spent a lot of time thinking how best to replace… More details

  • Sony PlayStation DualShock4 (2013)

    Sony PlayStation DualShock4…

    The new PlayStation 4 controller is sturdier than the… More details

Tags: video games

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