The second part of GameSpy's article on the 20th anniversary of Nintendo's Famicom has been posted. This part takes a look at the Famicoms hardware:
The Famicom was hardly a super-powerful beast, but compared very well to the other hardware on the market. The really intelligent thing about its design was that the system existed in the meeting place between cheapness and capability; it was equal or even better than the other systems in the market in 1983, but was much cheaper than they were, too.
Its processor, the NMOS 6502, was a slightly modified off-the-shelf part selected for its cheapness and ease of use. The processor ran at less than 2 MHz, which is less than 1/1000th the speed of an average Windows desktop CPU these days. Of course, the fact that such a cheap unit was still capable of playing great games well beyond its predecessors was what made it such a smash hit in both Japan and the U.S.