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What has gone before part II




Okay, it's another "clip show" entry. See, part of the goal was to play everything in a long unbroken chain so the gradual evolution of these things could be observed. However, it ain't unbroken, so I'm refreshing my memory.


This is just a refresh of 1977 with (EDIT 2021: without) links to the original articles.




Miscellaneous Dedicated


Stunt Cycle (a.k.a. Motocross)

Video Pinball (a.k.a. Pinball Breakaway)

Ultra PONG Doubles (a.k.a. PONG Sports IV)

Coleco Combat


Weird and Miscellaneous

Coleco Telstar Arcade


Okay, I don't know if Telstar Arcade should be considered a programmable system or not. Four carts were put out for it, but they were all carts with a different "pong on a chip" type arrangement in in each one. In other words, as I understand it, the "program" was hardcoded onto the chip and not sitting in a "rom" space. It could be that it wouldn't have to stay that way, later cartridges could have produced the same effect with actual programs stored in rom, but I don't think that ever happened. Can anyone with a better stocked brain confirm my reasoning for me? (EDIT 2021: Eric Ball pointed out that it the Coleco Telstar Arcade is more of a programmable system than, say, the Magnavox Odyssey is. In 2021, it's hard to find the Telstar Arcade for a price I'm willing to pay, so I guess I'll never play it, which, at my now more advanced age, I'm okay with. After thinking about it, it now feels like Telstar Arcade was more like a specialized controller set with video output. One could plug special carts into it and use the different controllers with the games in the carts. End EDIT)


RCA Studio II


:| Bowling / :( Freeway / :| Patterns / :| Doodles / :( Math (These were the built-ins)

:) Space War (TV Arcade I)

:( Fun with Numbers (TV Arcade II)

:( Tennis / Squash (TV Arcade III)

:| Baseball (TV Arcade IV)

:x Speedway / Tag (TV Arcade Series)

:x Gunfighter / Moonship Battle (TV Arcade Series)

:| Blackjack (TV Casino Series)

:| Biorhythm (TV Mystic Series)

:roll: TV School House I

:roll: Math Fun (a.k.a. TV School House II)


Fairchild VES


:| #4 Spitfire

:| #5 Space War

:roll: #6 Math Quiz I

:roll: #7 Math Quiz II (#5, #6 and #7 are all the same entry)

:) #8 Magic Number (NIM, Mindreader)

:) #9 Drag Race

:) #10 Maze (Cat & Mouse, Blindman's Bluff, Jailbreak, Trailblazer)

:| #11 Backgammon / Acey-Ducey (#10 and #11 are the same entry)

:) #12 Baseball

:| / :) #13 Robot War / Torpedo Alley (#12 and #13 are the same entry)

:) #14 Sonar Search


Atari Video Computer System


:)!!! Combat (a.k.a. Tank Plus) (Combat is the same entry that introduces the VCS)

:)! Indy 500 (a.k.a. Race)

:) Video Olympics (a.k.a. Pong Sports) (Yay! Four Players!)

:)!! Surround (a.k.a. Chase)

:)! Air-Sea Battle (a.k.a. Target Fun)

:roll: Basic Math (a.k.a. Fun With Numbers)

:roll: Blackjack(Same entry as BlackJack)

:) Star Ship (a.k.a. Outer Space)

:) Street Racer (a.k.a. Speedway II) (Yay! Four Players!)

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Based on http://www.pong-story.com/coleco_arcade.htm and http://www.pong-story.com/gi.htm I'd say it's closer to a programmable system than something like the Magnavox Odyssey where the carts were just wires activating capabilities which already existed in the console. The trick with the Telestar Arcade is the cartridge contained both the ROM and the processor.


Unfortunately, I can't find a cartridge pinout nor a description of the console internals, so it's a little tough to determine how complex the cartridge could get. But I'd guess that the 36 pads on the cartridge PCB are I/O ports, not address/data busses, and connected directly to the various controllers along with resistor DACs for generating video and sound. The fact all four cartridges used the same microcontroller is coincidental and more a reflection of what was cheaply available at the time. I'm sure with something like the Parallax Propeller you could create almost any B&W game playable with the built-in controllers.

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the Odyssey as not really being a cartridge system, thanks for bringing that up, too. ;) EDIT: by which I mean, the Odyssey it isn't "programmable."


Thanks Eric Ball, I didn't realize it was a rom and processor thing going on in the Telstar Arcade carts. I guess I need to give this system a status that differentiates it from dedicated consoles. It sounds like that the carts were more dedicated as a console than the controller base was! I guess the processor and the rom comunicated information to the base and the base generated the image? Which would make the base little more than a receiver/broadcast platform with funky controls, wouldn't it?

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Which would make the base little more than a receiver/broadcast platform with funky controls, wouldn't it?


If I were designing such a thing, not using a microprocessor, I'd probably include some video timing circuitry in the base along with things like a score generator. Stuff like that will likely be common to many games, and so there's no need to repeat it. Still, I would guess that the cart would probably have the ability to throw just about anything up on the display and wouldn't be surprised if it could do color (if a 3.579Mhz signal could pass through from the cart to the video, it would likely work).

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Interesting discussion above. ^^ I had to check some pictures of the Telstar Arcade again as I had forgotten it used cartridges, let alone that they had a processor inside them.


Oh, and all links are broken again. :(

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