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The importance of a desktop PC knowing the current time could be debated, but it is clear IBM felt it to be important, for the IBM PC typically prompts the user to supply it on boot. Given that, the advantage of keeping track with a battery-backed clock is clear, and such became standard hardware from the AT on.

The importance of a game console knowing the current time is less clear, but either designers felt it so or the cost of the extra components became negligible, for consoles eventually likewise acquired battery-backed clocks.

What was the first game console to have a battery backed clock?

  • Mind to specify what consoles you have in mind? – Raffzahn Jan 20 at 14:53
  • @Raffzahn I don't actually know which generation this happened in. I remember the PlayStation 2 keeping track of the time, but that's the most concrete memory I have on the topic, and a Google search didn't turn up any useful results. – rwallace Jan 20 at 15:00
  • Well, Playstation 2 is already more of a PC like thing of the 2000s, one that offers quite a lot features, making the addition of a TOD clock rather mundane. – Raffzahn Jan 20 at 15:03
  • @Raffzahn True! Which is one reason I had a feeling it was not the first console with such a feature. – rwallace Jan 20 at 15:37
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    The Sega Saturn has a built-in date/time battery-backed clock. But unless you actually wanted to specialise to TV-connected consoles, Raffzahn has already beaten that by a substantial margin. – Tommy Jan 20 at 17:02
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The importance of a game console knowing the current time is less clear, but either designers felt it so or the cost of the extra components became negligible, for consoles eventually likewise acquired battery-backed clocks.

Or they had good applications like ordering save games by time and recording the rime of a win - or simply being able to tell time as a feature? Having the user to set time each and every boot to do so would be a true fun stopper.

Also, as soon as there was a way to save game status, a battery backed RAM was needed anyway - now adding time was a real minor hardware issue.

What was the first game console to have a battery backed clock?

No doubt 1980's Game&Watch series - after all, without a battery backed clock the watch part would be useless, wouldn't it ? :))

Next in line might be the Game Boy, at least as long a MBC3 based game was plugged in. But there may be other consoles inbetween, as MBC3 was a thing of the 90s IIRC.

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Community wiki chronological list of home videogame consoles, handhelds and early microcomputers (both business-centric and console-like game systems) that possess an installed battery backed up clock as standard in their base hardware - not games, add-on cards, etc.

Please contribute. Only include systems where it was a generational introduction, and assume all/most successors from the same company also contain the BB clock for brevity (i.e. Only include PS2, not 3, 4, etc.)

  • Amiga 500+ (1991) (First Amiga with installed clock. Not present on A1000 (1985) or A500 (1987) as standard: A1000 supports parallel port RTC, A500 supports system bus 'trapdoor' RTC)
  • Atari Mega STe (1991)
  • Sega Saturn (Nov 1994)
  • Sega Dreamcast (Nov 1998) (Both console and VMUs possess independent BB clocks!)
  • Sony PlayStation 2 (Mar 2000)
  • Nintendo Gamecube (Sep 2001)
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    The TurboGrafx 16 had the Turbo Booster Plus and the CD-ROM add-on, both of which contained a small battery to store save data, much like the Saturn. The later TurboDuo had this built in. However, I don't think it had any sort of real-time clock functionality (I don't recall ever seeing anything like that on mine). So, the TG16 gets partial credit. – db2 Jan 21 at 13:57

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