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- New companies: Accolade, Elite Systems, Gremlin Graphics, Kemco, New World Computing, Novagen, Ocean, Psygnosis, Sculptured Software
- Defunct companies: Astrocade, Imagine, Sirius.
- Hasbro, Inc. acquires Milton Bradley Company.
- Management Sciences America acquires Edu-Ware Services.
- Brøderbund acquires 8-bit gaming competitor Synapse Software.
- Atari shuts down the Atari Program Exchange, which sold notable "user written" games such as Eastern Front (1941) and Dandy.
- Warner Communications Inc. sells the Consumer Division of Atari, Inc. and creates an entirely new company, Atari Games, out of the retained arcade division.
- Sega and CSK merge to form Sega Enterprises Ltd.
- June 6 - Alexei Pajitnov creates Tetris for the Electronika 60 in the Soviet Union.
- September 20 - Elite, an influential wireframe 3D space trading game offering full six degrees of freedom and a then-unique open-ended design, is published by Acornsoft.
- October - Nihon Falcom releases Dragon Slayer, which lays the foundations for the action role-playing game genre.
- December - T&E Soft releases Hydlide, an early action role-playing game that features a health regeneration mechanic and anticipates elements of The Legend of Zelda and Ys series.
- December 7 - Knight Lore by Ultimate Play The Game is released for the ZX Spectrum (and later ported to the BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, and Famicom Disk System). It is the third title in the Sabreman series, but the first to use the isometric Filmation engine.
- Bullet-Proof Software releases The Black Onyx, which helps popularize turn-based role-playing games in Japan.
- Brøderbund releases The Ancient Art of War by Dave and Barry Murry. It is a real-time tactics game and a precursor to the real-time strategy genre.
- Brøderbund releases Karateka for the Apple II.
- The Lords of Midnight, a strategy adventure game by Mike Singleton, is released.
- Infocom releases The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Sorcerer, Cutthroats, and Seastalker.
- First Star releases Boulder Dash, which inspired enough clones to create the rocks-and-diamonds genre.
- Epyx releases Impossible Mission for the Commodore 64.
- Electronic Arts releases Adventure Construction Set.
- Synapse releases Atari 8-bit game Dimension X, over 9 months after running magazine ads showing features that weren't present in the final game.
- January 24 - Apple Inc. announces the original, 128K, floppy disc-only, Macintosh.
- March - IBM releases the IBM PCjr in an attempt to enter the home computer market. It has improved sound and graphics over the original, business-oriented IBM PC, but is commercial failure.
- Atari announces the Atari 7800, a next-gen console that's compatible with Atari 2600 cartridges. It is then shelved until 1986 due to the sale of the company and legal issues.
- Discontinued systems: Atari 5200, Vectrex, Intellivision