Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames

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Cover of Phoenix, 3rd edition
Author Leonard Herman
Subject History of videogames
Publisher Rolenta Press
Publication date
June 2001
ISBN 0-9643848-5-X

Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames is a book written by Leonard Herman and originally published in December 1994 by Rolenta Press. At the time of its publication, Phoenix was the first comprehensive book about the history of videogames. Two subsequent editions were released: the 2nd edition arrived in 1997 and a 3rd edition was published in 2001. The book has been completely rewritten and a 4th edition is planned for a 2015 release. In June 2008, Game Informer magazine named it the second best videogame-related book of all time.

Phoenix follows a chronological approach to the history of videogames. Nearly every chapter represents one year (with the exception of Chapter 1, which is a history of computers, Chapter 2, which represents the years 1970-1973, and Chapter 3, which is about the years 1974-1976).

Herman began writing the book in 1987 and his intention was for it to be published by 1992, the twentieth anniversary of videogames. Several publishers, including Prima Games, rejected the book on the grounds that the videogame industry was still too new for anyone to be interested in a detailed history of it. After Herman mentioned the book in a letter printed in the fanzine, 2600 Connection, readers of the fanzine wrote to him asking for copies. Herman decided to release it as a photocopied booklet, joined by staples. Fifty copies of this 'Preview' edition were printed and sent to videogame fanzines and magazines. Following a favorable mention by Chris Johnston in the August 1994 issue of EGM², Herman decided to self-publish the book and founded Rolenta Press in order to do so.

Phoenix has received favorable reviews and mentions from many magazines including Electronic Games, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Wired, Edge, Gamepro, Game Informer, and Next Generation. In fact, following the release of the 2nd edition, Next Generation publisher Jonathan Simpson-Bint and Herman were in discussions about Simpson-Bint's company, Imagine Media, taking over the publishing of subsequent editions of Phoenix. Nothing ever came out of these discussions.

On May 1, 2012, Herman announced that the 4th edition would be published by No Starch Press in late 2013.[1] Delays in writing have pushed that back to early 2015.


  • Preview Edition - January 1994 - History through 1992
  • 1st Edition - December 1994 - History through 1993
  • 2nd Edition - September 1997 - Three printings - History through 1996. This edition was the first to include black & white photos. Foreword by Keith Feinstein.
  • 3rd Edition - June, 2001 - Eleven printings through October 2014 - History through 2000. The first four printings of this edition were in a large 8.5 x 11 format. The book went out of print in 2005 and was unavailable for several years because the publisher believed that the fourth edition was imminent. In October, 2009, it was apparent that the 4th edition wasn't going to be published any time soon, so a new printing of the 3rd edition was made available. The new printing was reduced to a 6x9 size, but otherwise contained the same text as the prior printings. Foreword by Ralph Baer. The tenth and eleventh printings featured a new cover by Michael Thomasson and Cory Golabek.
  • 4th Edition - 2015 - History through 2014. Forewords by Ted Dabney and Chris Kohler.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Herman, Leonard. "Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames - 4th edition". Retrieved 7 February 2013.