The Advanced Entertainment System (AES), originally known just as the Neo Geo, is the first video game console in the family. The hardware features comparatively colorful 2D graphics. The system was marketed as 24-bit, though it is technically a 16 bit system accompanied by an 8-bit Zilog Z80 as coprocessor. The coprocessor is generally used for sound processing.
Initially, the home system was only available for rent to commercial establishments, such as hotel chains, bars and restaurants, and other venues. When customer response indicated that some gamers were willing to buy a US$650 console, SNK expanded sales and marketing into the home console market. The Neo Geo console was officially launched on 31 January 1990 in Osaka, Japan. The AES is identical to its arcade counterpart, the MVS, so arcade games released for the home market are nearly identical conversions.
SNK's first two products using the Neo Geo name are an arcade system called the Neo Geo Multi Video System (MVS) and a companion console called the Advanced Entertainment System (AES), both released in 1990. The MVS offers arcade operators the ability to put up to six different arcade games into a single cabinet, a key economic consideration for operators with limited floorspace. It comes in many different cabinets but basically consists of an add on board that can be linked to a standard JAMMA system.
The Neo Geo CD, released in 1994, was initially an upgrade from the original AES. This console uses CDs instead of ROM cartridges like the AES. The unit's (approximately) 1X CD-ROM drive was slow, making loading times very long with the system loading up to 56 Mbits of data between loads. Neo Geo CD game prices were low at US$50, in contrast to Neo Geo AES game cartridges which cost as much as US$300. The system could also play Audio CDs. All three versions of the system have no region-lock.
The Neo Geo CD was bundled with a control pad instead of a joystick like the AES. However, the original AES joystick can be used with all 3 Neo Geo CD models, instead of the included control pads.