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The Family Computer, in Japanese (ファミリーコンピュータ Famiri Konpyuta), but better known as the Famicom (ファミコン Famikon), is a third generation video game console developed by Nintendo and sold in Japan from 1983-07-15 to 2003-09-25 and serviced until 2007-10-31. The Famicom was re-engineered for markets outside of the Asian region as the Nintendo Entertainment System and that model was later marketed in South Korea, as the Hyundai Comboy (현대 컴보이 Hyeondae Keomboi).

The Famicom uses a Ricoh 2A03 processor, which is a MOS 6502 modified to eliminate decimal mode (to avoid licensing issues) and include a custom audio processing unit. It also uses a custom video processing chip called the Picture Processing Unit.

I do not own and have never played a real-life Famicom, but I have played a lot of games through emulators.

Differences Between the Famicom and NES

The differences between the two consoles are notable enough that I have separate pages for each.

  • The Famicom console was smaller than the NES.
  • The Famicom controllers are smaller than the those for the NES.
  • The console's two controllers were wired into the main unit for the Famicom, while they are removable on the NES.
  • The second-player controller lacks a start and select button and instead features a speaker and microphone, however, very few games used them.
  • Famicom game cartridges used a top-loader design while the NES used a spring-loaded insert design.
  • Famicom cartridges were smaller and had fewer connection pins.
  • Famicom game boxes were originally designed wider than taller, the opposite of NES boxes.
  • The Famicom did not feature the special lock-out chip of the NES.


See all Famicom Games.

Initial Games

The Famicom did not ship with a pack-in game.

The following games were available at the console's launch: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Popeye.


These are the Famicom games that are both important to me and distinct enough from their American release to mention:



I don't really know enough about the console to warrant a review at this time.




Computerphile - Q&A with Masayuki Uemura.
Review, NES Works.
Famicom commercials.

See Also


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