When Nintendo Got Into a Copyright Dispute Over a Microwave


In the west, we know it as the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES – the 8-bit console that turned its makers into an industry giant. 

But before the NES was released in America in 1985, it was released in Japan as the Family Computer in 1983, and much like everywhere else, it quickly became a phenomenon. Such games as Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda defined a generation, and are still widely discussed and played today – just look at the success of the NES Classic Mini.

Because “Family Computer” is a bit of a mouthful, Japanese gamers soon began calling it the Famicom for short – a much friendlier, concise name. You may have wondered why Nintendo didn’t simply call the system by this name in first place, or at least start rebranding later editions of the console with the Famicom contraction when the name started appearing in magazines and fanzines. After all, Nintendo started using the contraction in the 16-bit era, with the SNES carrying the name Super Famicom in Japan.

As it turns out, there was a very good reason for this: electronics company Sharp got there first, with the name “Famicon” appearing on a line of microwave ovens in the late 1970s.

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, and a really fascinating story if you’re interested in your gaming history. So make a cup of tea, pull up a chair, and take a look at Gaijillionaire’s latest video, which explains all…

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