Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In Search of the Square Button Famicom Revisions

This post is about an interesting little bit of archeological research that is being conducted into the hidden history of the Famicom - the revisions.

Revisions are basically just that - revisions. Over the course of the Famicom`s lifetime Nintendo was constantly revising the insides to deal with technical issues as they cropped up. Each time they did a revision they would number the board with whatever revision it was. Due to the fact that these were numbered sequentially (ie starting from 1), it is possible to establish a timeline of these revisions in relation to the development of the outwardly visible changes in the console - most notably the switch over from square to round buttons.

My interest in this was sparked by jpx72 over at Famicom World, to whom I sold my old square button Famicom a few weeks ago. To me it was just a broken old Famicom that I had no use for which I was glad to get rid of. To him it was an important piece of history that was of immense interest. His enthusiasm piqued my interest and I began to learn more.

He directed me to this thread over on Famicom World where you`ll find a little debate going on. The posters there have been slowly trying to piece together the history of these revisions based on Famicom consoles they have found. Square button ones, being the earliest Famicoms issued, are of particular interest.

Their research so far has found that consoles from the 5th revision were the last to have the square buttons. From revision 6 they started having round buttons.

What made my broken old square button Famicom so interesting to jpx72 was that after he recieved it in the mail he discovered that it was from the 3rd revision. Until then the earliest square button Famicom that anyone on Famicom World had been able to find was from the 4th revision.

So my little old square button Famicom confirmed that the 3rd revision had in fact been sold to the public. As of now nobody seems to have a confirmed sighting of a 1st or 2nd revision Famicom.

Anyway, among the avalanche of recent bargains I`ve been finding at Omocha Souko has been another square button Famicom. This gives me two in total, including the one I got a few months ago which is in great condition.

After procrastinating for the longest time I decided that today was the day to actually open up these two square button Famicoms and see which revisions they were.

The new one I opened first. This is what the board looks like:
The revision number can be found in the lower left hand corner:
You can see that little 05 there, which means it is a 5th revision console, the very last before the round button ones came out.

I then cracked open my other one and discovered this:
It is a 3rd revision one! This means that it is tied with my old one that I sold to jpx72 as the oldest revision square button Famicom out there! I don`t know why but for some reason this fills me with an immense sense of satisfaction!

Anyway, this is just my little post about a very interesting bit of research being done into the history of the Famicom. Maybe someday a 1st or 2nd revision board will be found.


  1. Really interesting stuff sir. Keep up the good work awa!

  2. Interesting! Before reading this post, I probably would have thought that the first Famicom revision was the one that exchanged round buttons for square ones. Who would have thought that there were four revisions that included square buttons?!?

    Also, it's cool that you helped prove that the third version was sold to the public.

    Do folks tend to think that the first and second versions were sold to the public, too, or do they think one or both of them were simply the result of R&D?

    Anyway, does this mean you're going to be buying every square-buttoned Famicom you come across from now on? ;)

  3. I thought so too, Bryan, until I started looking into it!

    The jury seems to be out on whether or not the 1st and 2nd were sold to the public. Apparently some people have claimed to see them, though these haven`t been substantiated and may have been people reading the wrong number and mistaking something else for an early revision.

    Its kind of interesting because it provides you a way of pinpointing how early or late in the console`s lifetime each individual console was released.

  4. Very interesting :) I know of consoles receiving multiple revisions - my beloved Master System is the same - but I've never thought about it that much detail before. Perhaps I will look into the various MS revisions too :)

  5. I never thought much about it either until recently. I wonder how many revisions the MS has.

  6. Gotta love the Famicom community! For me, tracking revisions for the Saturn became something I found interesting owing to the changing nature of the machine as they tried refining the dog's breakfast of a PCB the Saturn has. In the early days, we referred to them as "Model 1" and "Model 2" machines, with the former having oval buttons and an access LED, whilst the latter had only a single power LED and round buttons. Since then though, there have been plenty of instances of older revision Saturn boards in newer "Model 2" shells and vice-versa.

    I guess we've seen the same thing with the PSone/PS2 as well, with Sony revising the boards frequently during the machine's lifespan to not only make them cheaper to manufacture and less prone to failure, but also to thwart the ability to install modchips in the machine.

    And of course who could forget the Xbox 360 - plenty of hardware revisions there to try and fix their relatively short operational lifespan.

  7. Interesting bit of Famicom trivia I was not aware of before. Of course, had to open my square button ones (I have two as well). Result: two times revision no 5. Not sure why, but was slightly disappointed. Like opening a Zelda treasure chest and finding only a single rupee...

  8. Thanks, Erik! Don`t be too disappointed, I`m not sure which revision is actually harder to find. I`ve owned three square button Famicoms (including the one I sold) and two of them are 3rd revision, so they can`t be that rare compared to the 5th!

  9. Nonsense. I have about thirty or more Rev-05 units. Rev-03 and Rev-04 are definitely rarer, and I think that Rev-06 may prove to be on par with them.

    I'm still searching for Rev-01 and Rev-02 units, I think... I may have an 0 or an 03--I frankly don't recall which it was. I'd be interested in any pre-Rev-04 units that you find. I have quite a lot of documentation on them, as well as serial numbers, plus information that I posted about the exchange programmes both on the pre-Rev-05 logic boards and on the SB controllers.

    -Xi (Flashback V.E.)

  10. Thanks for the correction. There you go, folks, 3 and 4 are rarer!

    Interesting that the rev 6 is also quite rare.

    I`ll post updates if I find any other early revs.

  11. I opened up my Famicom after reading this, thinking it would be funny if it turned out to be #6 or some rare number, but to my surprise the only number I could find (besides the 04 printed in black on one of the blue things) was "02B." Yet mine has round buttons. I think the owner must have sent it to Nintendo complaining about the buttons and gotten it back with the controllers replaced, or a later owner swapped some good controllers from a junk console with the square button ones (not knowing the value) since the originals weren't working well. If you want me to tell you anything about it, just ask.

    1. Never mind... I just remembered that only round button ones have the weird silver box inside and the /:/: logo. But can someone explain "02B" then?

  12. Interesting, I`m not sure what the 2B means! You should shoot jpx72 a message over on Famicom World, he knows a lot abou these things!

  13. I don't have a Famicom World account. Does he have an email address?

  14. Hey, I just pulled apart a square button famicom I got, and it is rev 6. Furthermore, it has the original 2A03 with no revision, but it DOES have surface-mount S-RAM. Weird, huh?

  15. Logan - sorry for the late response, I don`t know his email.

    Michael - Weird indeed. The history of these things is so complicated....

  16. rev1 and others

  17. I opened up a square button Famicom and the number on the bottom left is "07". Bit surprised because the last model mentioned is 6th revision. Does anyone know what the significance of that is?

  18. Actually in the Philippines

    There's a store called "RetrogamerPh" and they're selling a square famicom for 98USD (5000php)

  19. I have the oldest famicom I've ever seen with a smooth dust flap & a revision 3. I have a few more famicom square buttons I'm going to check but they are not as old because the smooth dust flap & serial number proves that. I have to check for a rare 4 or 6 though but they will probably be 5's.

  20. They got the 01 version >