In Pictures: 3 decades of hand-held game systems

Three decades after the debut of Milton Bradley's Microvision, here's a look at how handheld video game systems evolved, from early flops like the Atari Lynx to the gaming innovations of the iPhone.

The current generation of handheld devices blurs the lines separating multimedia devices, pocket computers, and game devices, emphasizing wireless Internet networking and online distribution of games--notably pushed by Apple on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Since Apple's astounding success with the App Store, both Nintendo and Sony have stepped up their online distribution efforts with their Nintendo DSi and PSP Go consoles, respectively.

As we look to the future, the complete extinction of physical game media (cartridges, cards, and discs) seems imminent. Also, expect handheld game consoles to merge further with multifunction pocket devices such as smartphones as they compete for limited pocket space.

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