Robot Archaeology: the Nintendo R.O.B. @NintendoAmerica #Robots #Gaming #History

In a previous Robot Archaeology post, we briefly mentioned the Nintendo R.O.B. robot as part of personal robots of the past. Here at Adafruit, we have a special fondness for Nintendo products, past and present, with the Switch and Labo in featured projects.

Back in 1983, the video game market collapsed. The market was flooded with consoles no one wanted. So at the June 1985 Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo introduced something new. The Nintendo Entertainment System was billed not as a gaming console but as an entertainment system and marketed like a toy. The system came with a light gun and a special robot named R.O.B. (short for Robotic Operating Buddy). R.O.B. was used early on to highlight entertainment. Wikipedia says:

The optional Robotic Operating Buddy, or R.O.B., was part of a marketing plan to portray the NES’s technology as being novel and sophisticated when compared to previous game consoles, and to portray its position as being within reach of the better established toy market. While at first, the American public exhibited limited excitement for the console itself, peripherals such as the light gun and R.O.B. attracted extensive attention.

The Deluxe Set, retailing at US$179.99 (equivalent to $450 now) included R.O.B., a light gun called the NES Zapper, two controllers, and two Game Paks: Gyromite, and Duck Hunt. By 1988, industry observers stated that the NES’s popularity had grown so quickly that the market for Nintendo cartridges was larger than that for all home computer software. But, R.O.B. was left behind as NES became popular. Only a handful of games were ever coded to use its capabilities and those relied on CRT monitors.

ROB magazine ad

Info/Pic from Later emulations have pretty much left R.O.B behind.

Here’s some hacks folks have done over the years:

Here at Adafruit, we love Nintendo and we love hacking. The new Adafruit Crickit board is made for controlling motorized items. We’re planning to revive some R.O.B.s with Crickit. Stay tuned for our progress updates as the eBay packages arrive!

Crickit and Circuit Playground Express

Do you remember R.O.B and the NES? Post your thoughts in the comments!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.