Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

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Console Classix: Online vintage game rentals

Console Classix

Console Classix bills themselves as an online video game rental service. They concentrate only on classic games for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, NES/SNES and the Sega Genesis (among others). I admit that I was slightly skeptical when contacted by Jake Anderson, the site's webmaster. My first thought was that they were simply an illegal ROM download service, but that isn't the case.

Donkeykong Console Classix started out by amassing a large library of classic games. They made exact digital images of the cartridge ROMs and destroyed the original cartridge (presumably keeping the ROMs as proof of ownership). The games run within special Console Classix Client software, which ensures that users are only allowed to lease the number of copies in their library. When a user is done playing, the ROM image is deleted from their computer's memory and made available to others. It's an interesting (and unique) approach to game rentals.

Of course, it didn't take long for industry giant Nintendo to catch wind of their scheme. Nintendo of America (NoA) sent a DMCA cease and desist letter several weeks after the site's debut in June 2001. Console Classix responded and was told that NoA was "considering" their reply, but there was no further contact. My suspicion is that NoA realized this might be a dangerous case to pursue - if Nintendo challenged the legality of Console Classix and lost, it would pave the wave for a swarm of similar online rental services in the future. As it is, I think the Console Classix approach is brilliant - they're essentially providing the same service as a local game rental outlet, except with instant delivery.

Zelda You can sign up for a free account that gives instant access to hundreds of games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600 and ColecoVision. If you find yourself yearning for more, a $5/month subscription unlocks thousands of titles for the SNES, Sega Genesis, Gameboy Color, Sega Game Gear, and Sega Master System.

All in all, this service offers incredible value for the money. It's true that the titles are emulated rather than running on the original hardware, but Console Classix has integrated popular emulators such as ZSNES and Gens to ensure a top-notch gaming experience. I also applaud the effort they have invested in building an independent and legal online rental service.

Visit Console Classix

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