What Restoring a 30-Year-Old Nintendo Taught Me About Right To Repair

Fixing things is human nature, so why are companies so against it?

Published in
7 min readOct 26, 2020


Photo: Mike Wehner

In the late 1980s, somebody bought a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from a physical store, brought it home, and presumably enjoyed it for untold years. The console, with serial number N12180601, suffered greatly in the decades to come, eventually landing on eBay in a condition that can only be described as “junk.” The seller, located in Angleton, Texas, was asking a modest price of $11.99 for the system, which was not only nonfunctional and damaged, but missing a plethora of parts.

I bought it.

Covered in dirt and grease, partially disassembled, burned by ill-placed cigarettes, missing vital internal components, and sporting bright white paint drips, the console was a mess. If your smartphone, TV, or modern game console were in this kind of condition you’d simply throw it out and buy a replacement. But the NES was built in the 1980s, back when companies didn’t care nearly as much about making money off repairs, and as such, it was salvageable with my bare minimum of technological know-how and my very questionable soldering skills.

This is what it looks like now:

I worked hard to bring the dead console back to life. It took time, patience, and lots of information from retro gaming enthusiasts online, but I made it happen.

If you want to watch the entire repair process from start to finish, I’ve edited eight-or-so hours of restoration footage down to just over 20 minutes:

Right to Repair