Back in 1980, Nintendo executives Hiroshi Yamauchi, Masayuki Uemura
and their engineers began work on a new console, far more advanced than the Color TV Game systems that the company had sold before.
The new system was supposed to play different games stored on cartridges.
Nintendo wasn't the first company to come up with that idea.
Atari, Commodore, Bandai, Takara and Sharp all released or were in the process of developing similar systems.
Yamauchi and Uemura agreed that they had to make a console which would not only be better than all the competitors' machines but would also be cheaper, so that anyone could afford it.
Yamauchi set a goal for the price of the machine at 9.800 yen (about $75 at that time.)
At first, Masayuki Uemura thought about using a 16-bit CPU, but concluded that it will be too expensive so he settled for 8-bit.
Masayuki spent a lot of time with his engineers looking at Nintendo's current arcade games and trying to find the most suitable and key components for the future console.
He settled on a cheap, not very powerful CPU called the 6502.
The 6502 CPU couldn't handle all the graphical work by itself so a PPU (Picture Processing Unit) was also employed.
Masayuki and Yamauchi met with representatives from many semi-conductor companies but most turned down their offer.
Nintendo wanted components at rock bottom prices while promising enormous orders.
Most companies weren't willing to gamble in such way.
The "lucky" contractor was Ricoh, a company whose semiconductor division had few projects at the time.
Yamauchi didn't want to pay more than 2,000 yen per chip which Ricoh thought was an absurdly low price.
He did entise them with a 3 Million chip order within a 2 year period so they agreed.
The employees at Nintendo were startled and questioned what the heck was Hiroshi thinking with his 3 Million chip order.
Until then, Nintendo had only sold 1 Million copies of their Color TV Games system!
To lower production costs, the memory of the new system had to be cut down to only 2,000 bytes (16 kilobits.)
The suggestions to include a keyboard, modem and a disk slot had to also be dismissed.
Yamauchi was a perfectionist when it came to the design of the NES and spent countless hours on it.
He decided to add some pretty expensive circuitry with a connector that could send and receive unmodified signal to the CPU.
The latter enabled the NES to be hooked up to any accessory plugged into the connector (like a modem or keyboard.)