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RCA Studio II GOLD MINE! An interview with the Studio 2 Production Manager!


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So the tape doesn't differentiate the 1st and 2nd style boxes. But I have only seen 1st style boxes without tape.

 

The original boxes were a stiff cardboard that had the corners attached with a tape. Then a sticker paper with graphics was wrappped over this.

 

The 2nd style boxes were made from 1 sheet of a white carton stock and were printed on directly and then folded together with interlocking tabs.

 

As far as I know gf/msb and sw/t were only made with the 2nd style box type.

 

School house 1 I believe was only made in the first style and I think maybe math fun and space war too. And biorythym I can't remember off hand which type it was or if it had both.

 

I have never seen the 2nd style without tape. And the first style are the ones I have rarely seen sealed. Don't own any though. I think toymailman does though.

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Could those razor cuts to the boxes have come when a larger carton or box of games was opened (presumably at the retail level)?

 

The carton would, presumably, be secured with packing tape for transport. If someone was careless in cutting it open, it would be possible to damage the merchandise inside, particularly the item(s) directly beneath the packing tape.

That is what I believe also. That the cuts came from the retailers or warehouse workers. I was mostly curious because I have 4 brand new games. 3 shrink wrapped and 1 not. I was trying to determine if the game not shrink wrapped but still sealed was ever shrink wrapped at all. And I do not believe it was because it has the skinny tape on bottom and the only razor cut games I've seen recently had tape as well. I didn't put together my hypothesis until after I had sold off some of the others I had seen with the razor cuts. The three games I have that are shrink wrapped have no tape at all.

 

I also remember someone telling 8_is_enough, when he was selling his Bingo game, that his School House I that was sealed might have been sealed after the fact. I believe that was the 2nd time I had heard that too.

 

I am going to have to keep an eye open for any razor cut games without tape. If I see one, then I'll come up with a new assumption.

Edited by gamerMac
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So the tape doesn't differentiate the 1st and 2nd style boxes. But I have only seen 1st style boxes without tape.

 

The original boxes were a stiff cardboard that had the corners attached with a tape. Then a sticker paper with graphics was wrappped over this.

 

The 2nd style boxes were made from 1 sheet of a white carton stock and were printed on directly and then folded together with interlocking tabs.

 

As far as I know gf/msb and sw/t were only made with the 2nd style box type.

 

School house 1 I believe was only made in the first style and I think maybe math fun and space war too. And biorythym I can't remember off hand which type it was or if it had both.

 

I have never seen the 2nd style without tape. And the first style are the ones I have rarely seen sealed. Don't own any though. I think toymailman does though.

Now I understand the difference. Thank you for explaining that to me. Although both appear to have sticker paper with graphics wrapped over them.

 

The copies of Biorhythm that I have are 2nd style.

 

You probably already knew this from me posting the pics previously, but my demo cart is 1st style.

 

The three games with razor cuts are both styles. The copy of Gunfighter/msb is 2nd style, the other two, BJ black label and Space War are 1st style.

 

My shrink wrapped sealed games are all 1st style. The copies are School House I, Baseball and Space War.

 

My sealed but not shrink wrapped game is Blackjack red label and it is 2nd style.

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Interesting! Thanks for the info.

 

I will double check but I was certain the 2nd style was printed right on glossy carton stock.

 

Ah, you are the guy with the other boxed demo cart. I forgot that! And yes the other boxed one was 1st style.

 

I would agree the cuts are probably from stores opening up cases rather than removing shrink.

 

Lastly...what now! You have a red blackjack?!?!?!

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Interesting! Thanks for the info.

 

I will double check but I was certain the 2nd style was printed right on glossy carton stock.

 

Ah, you are the guy with the other boxed demo cart. I forgot that! And yes the other boxed one was 1st style.

 

I would agree the cuts are probably from stores opening up cases rather than removing shrink.

 

Lastly...what now! You have a red blackjack?!?!?!

Sorry, nothing new, just the variant red RCA logo Blackjack game. One is black RCA and one is red RCA. I apologize for the confusion.

 

I am in Oklahoma. Chicago is a bit of a drive:)

Edited by gamerMac
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Awesome box style discussion- and to add a few things: there indeed some slightly different box styles, including box colors, but almost all of that is due to quality from the various printed material suppliers. From my talks with the Swannanoa factory guys, the boxes and game mannuals, along with cart labels, were printed by other outside providers and only assembled into complete game copies at the factory. This is how some boxes have aged differently than others (I have a Yellow boxed Arcade series game!) and also accounts for one or two different box "variants" with different color shades in places. I can also confirm that the games themselves were never shrinkwrapped at the factory- it was done by individual dealers and stores. There's been a few "sealed" copies on Ebay from time to time, in addition to those colkectors own. Just know that it wasn't RCA that did that.

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Also to note, the "TV Casino I" Blackjack box has the black RCA logo on the front AND the "Studio II" logo on the side, whereas the "TV Casino Series" Blackjack version has the Red RCA logo on the front and no "Studio II" logo on the side. I consider it to be the only real, intentional box variant that RCA deliberately made back in the day.

 

Fun thing to do: go look at your Math Fun boxes. You'll notice that one side has a black RCA logo and black text, and the opposite side has white and orange lettering. Math Fun is its own variant! :)

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Awesome box style discussion- and to add a few things: there indeed some slightly different box styles, including box colors, but almost all of that is due to quality from the various printed material suppliers. From my talks with the Swannanoa factory guys, the boxes and game mannuals, along with cart labels, were printed by other outside providers and only assembled into complete game copies at the factory. This is how some boxes have aged differently than others (I have a Yellow boxed Arcade series game!) and also accounts for one or two different box "variants" with different color shades in places. I can also confirm that the games themselves were never shrinkwrapped at the factory- it was done by individual dealers and stores. There's been a few "sealed" copies on Ebay from time to time, in addition to those colkectors own. Just know that it wasn't RCA that did that.

That makes sense as to why I have seen a yellowish Space Wars game that didn't appear to be faded.

 

But it also doesn't make sense for the games without tape on them. Think about being the employee packaging the boxes to be shipped out and constantly having a bottom portion of the box drop on the floor and the manual fall out and land where ever it does. And then shipping games that could fall apart just as soon as they were taken out of the box. I am not calling anyone a liar, just seems like a very unpleasant way of doing business on RCA's part. Could also explain why so many manuals from games are missing:)

Is it possible the guys you spoke with were not employed the entire run of the system and games? Or possible that their memories of 20 or 30 plus years(I am not sure when you spoke with them) ago might not be correct?

If not shrink wrapped, how were the games without tape on them transferred from place to place?

Edited by gamerMac
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Also to note, the "TV Casino I" Blackjack box has the black RCA logo on the front AND the "Studio II" logo on the side, whereas the "TV Casino Series" Blackjack version has the Red RCA logo on the front and no "Studio II" logo on the side. I consider it to be the only real, intentional box variant that RCA deliberately made back in the day.

 

Fun thing to do: go look at your Math Fun boxes. You'll notice that one side has a black RCA logo and black text, and the opposite side has white and orange lettering. Math Fun is its own variant! :)

Look at Baseball, only game to not have RCA Studio II logo on cartridge.

And Fun With Numbers has TV Arcade II on the box and manual but says TV Arcade series on all cartridges.

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That makes sense as to why I have seen a yellowish Space Wars game that didn't appear to be faded.

 

But it also doesn't make sense for the games without tape on them. Think about being the employee packaging the boxes to be shipped out and constantly having a bottom portion of the box drop on the floor and the manual fall out and land where ever it does. And then shipping games that could fall apart just as soon as they were taken out of the box. I am not calling anyone a liar, just seems like a very unpleasant way of doing business on RCA's part. Could also explain why so many manuals from games are missing:)

Is it possible the guys you spoke with were not employed the entire run of the system and games? Or possible that their memories of 20 or 30 plus years(I am not sure when you spoke with them) ago might not be correct?

If not shrink wrapped, how were the games without tape on them transferred from place to place?

 

Awesome box style discussion- and to add a few things: there indeed some slightly different box styles, including box colors, but almost all of that is due to quality from the various printed material suppliers. From my talks with the Swannanoa factory guys, the boxes and game mannuals, along with cart labels, were printed by other outside providers and only assembled into complete game copies at the factory. This is how some boxes have aged differently than others (I have a Yellow boxed Arcade series game!) and also accounts for one or two different box "variants" with different color shades in places. I can also confirm that the games themselves were never shrinkwrapped at the factory- it was done by individual dealers and stores. There's been a few "sealed" copies on Ebay from time to time, in addition to those colkectors own. Just know that it wasn't RCA that did that.

I went back through the thread and did some reading. I am guessing fauxscot or his boss maybe was your source of the shrink wrapped games discussion. I was hoping you might ask them directly about the games without tape on them. Maybe some of the difficulties of dealing with them or why they didn't use any tape? Were the retailers suppose to shrink wrap them when they received them? How was a customer suppose to know the game was brand new if it was already open?

 

Now I kinda want to open the ones I have haha

 

That information also tells me that the Swannanoa factory guys are NOT the ones that slit the games down the center with a razor. Had to have been whomever they sent the games to after they were constructed.

Edited by gamerMac
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I went back through the thread and did some reading. I am guessing fauxscot or his boss maybe was your source of the shrink wrapped games discussion. I was hoping you might ask them directly about the games without tape on them. Maybe some of the difficulties of dealing with them or why they didn't use any tape? Were the retailers suppose to shrink wrap them when they received them? How was a customer suppose to know the game was brand new if it was already open?

 

Now I kinda want to open the ones I have haha

 

That information also tells me that the Swannanoa factory guys are NOT the ones that slit the games down the center with a razor. Had to have been whomever they sent the games to after they were constructed.

Pretty sure RCA Studio II games were mostly sold through authorized RCA dealers. I believe RCA probably considered the games similar to any other part number and just shipped them to the dealers and generally dealers would keep them behind the counter or in a glass display case. I know various other RCA parts I have seen over the years were in similar boxes with no shrinkwrap and dealers were free to wrap them or tape them if needed. It's not like they were put in dump bins or available for the public to handle on a shelf for the most part. At some point there may have been enough feedback from dealers about the boxes to lead RCA to start taping them up at the factory. Frankly, Odyssey 1 games, Odyssey 2 games, early Atari 2600 games and early home computer games (Apple II, TRS-80, etc...) were never shrinkwrapped either (although Magnavox did end up using really generic consumer scotch tape for sealing with the O2 games).

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Pretty sure RCA Studio II games were mostly sold through authorized RCA dealers. I believe RCA probably considered the games similar to any other part number and just shipped them to the dealers and generally dealers would keep them behind the counter or in a glass display case. I know various other RCA parts I have seen over the years were in similar boxes with no shrinkwrap and dealers were free to wrap them or tape them if needed. It's not like they were put in dump bins or available for the public to handle on a shelf for the most part. At some point there may have been enough feedback from dealers about the boxes to lead RCA to start taping them up at the factory. Frankly, Odyssey 1 games, Odyssey 2 games, early Atari 2600 games and early home computer games (Apple II, TRS-80, etc...) were never shrinkwrapped either (although Magnavox did end up using really generic consumer scotch tape for sealing with the O2 games).

This! :)

 

Throughout the original retail life of the system, RCA dealers were the primary sellers. They had no need to really shrinkwrap the games. Some other dealers did, though not a majority. Something similar also happened with Channel F games, which are also very rarely ever seen sealed because only a few stores/distributors did that. Most copies never had shrinkwrap to begin with.

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That makes sense as to why I have seen a yellowish Space Wars game that didn't appear to be faded.

 

But it also doesn't make sense for the games without tape on them. Think about being the employee packaging the boxes to be shipped out and constantly having a bottom portion of the box drop on the floor and the manual fall out and land where ever it does. And then shipping games that could fall apart just as soon as they were taken out of the box. I am not calling anyone a liar, just seems like a very unpleasant way of doing business on RCA's part. Could also explain why so many manuals from games are missing:)

Is it possible the guys you spoke with were not employed the entire run of the system and games? Or possible that their memories of 20 or 30 plus years(I am not sure when you spoke with them) ago might not be correct?

If not shrink wrapped, how were the games without tape on them transferred from place to place?

Oh, there's no chance that their memories are faulty. Both fauxscot (who ran the system production line) and his boss Leonard S. (ran the whole plant) were there before, during, and after the run of the Studio II, and both had some very impressive powers of recall. If there was some minor detail that they couldn't remember, they simply said so. They didn't assume anything. But beyond the tidbits of printing and packing, there was something even better: Leonard still had and gave to me a full set of games from the factory that he (as did a few other workers there) purchased and bought home. Several were duplicates, and were NEVER opened or played at all, or even had really been touched much since 1977. They're as close to "factory direct" as is possible to have, and NONE had any shrinkwrap. That's how I can assert that it simply wasn't something they did at the factory- the two people who were there and knew best said so, AND I own factory direct NOS. It's also how I can confirm that at least some titles were taped at the factory, as several of the copies strait from Leonard do have the same nearly ubiquitous tape seen so commonly on the games.

 

As for why RCA did not have shrinkwrap as a standard feature, just refer to Bojay's post- it simply wasn't a commonly done thing back in the day. Not at that time. Dealers were the main sellers, rather than individual stores and chains. It was a little different back then how it is now. As for transporting them around, they were simply stacked and/or kept in cardboard boxes. Things rarely fell out, and it's a huge part of why even today the Studio II of all systems has one of the highest percentages of games still being complete (the other part of that is that they were rarely played with much back in the day).

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I suppose one strip of tape would be enough to keep the box shut, without going all the way to shrinkwrapping? For comparison, the Channel F boxes I've seen are ones where you unfold a flap and bring out the cartridge, not a two part box where you lift the upper part like on the Studio II so I'm not sure those who are comparable. Did the third player, the large Atari wrap their games from the start?

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I suppose one strip of tape would be enough to keep the box shut, without going all the way to shrinkwrapping? For comparison, the Channel F boxes I've seen are ones where you unfold a flap and bring out the cartridge, not a two part box where you lift the upper part like on the Studio II so I'm not sure those who are comparable. Did the third player, the large Atari wrap their games from the start?

Atari did not. In fact, some retailers ended up buying these plastic adhesive security strips that attach to the top and bottom box flaps to protect against theft of early 2600 games. Atari also made certain game boxes with a built in glue tab seal. Frankly, it wasn't until the crash when a lot of games were liquidated that many early 2600 games ended up in shrinkwrap, usually done by the retailer or distributor. I even have first run 7800 games that came directly out of Atari master cartons that didn't come with any wrap and those games were dated 1986.

Edited by bojay1997
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Apparently I never posted this information? But I think I've sussed out release dates of all the games based on some of the material at Hagley and some old Weekly Television Digest industry magazines.

 

1977 ( Feb 15 start date for internal sales counted)

Test market launch (February, probably the 15th): Space War, Fun with Numbers, Schoolhouse 1 (according to ads, articles, and RCA materials)

April: (national rollout occurs) Tennis/Squash late in the month (according to newspaper reports and RCA materials)

May 15: Baseball (RCA materials)

July: Blackjack? (listed as summer in RCA's ad materials) (the month was noted in TV digest 6-6-77 that says it was to come out in July, mentioned again as added to the lineup in the 9-19 issue that lists RCA's plans)

August: Math Fun? (month according to TV digest 6-6-77, but mentioned again as "added to the lineup" in same 9-19 issue)

Early Fall?: Gunfighter/Moonship Battle, Speedway/Tag (possibly in october?)

November 15: Biorhythm (RCA press release dated Nov 15, notes all other games have been released at this time)

In short, Blackjack and Math Fun either came out those months or in September - it's possible they had localized availability in those earlier months and were only available nationally by September. The same 9-19 issue of Television Digest does also indicate that Combat was now "added" to the VCS library, for what it's worth. Unfortunately RCA's own documentation doesn't indicate when they were shipping out Math Fun, Blackjack, Gunfighter/Moonship Battle or Speedway/Tag, and none of the TV Digest materials I have access to mention the latter two games in the least. Nothing even hints at Bingo.
Edited by ubersaurus
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I have some interesting news to share.

Today Russ Perry Jr found his lot of loose rca s2 chips he got from an electronics school that had purchased the shelf stock from rca.

We have been hoping to meet up for the last couple years to dump them.

We now hope to do so at vcfmw13 in 2 weeks if the stars align.

He knows 1 had a different bowling game than was released. Will be interesting to find what's on them!

 

post-26050-0-71702300-1536026450_thumb.jpeg

 

post-26050-0-98790100-1536026472_thumb.jpeg

 

post-26050-0-82789300-1536026515.jpeg

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Apparently I never posted this information? But I think I've sussed out release dates of all the games based on some of the material at Hagley and some old Weekly Television Digest industry magazines.

 

1977 ( Feb 15 start date for internal sales counted)

Test market launch (February, probably the 15th): Space War, Fun with Numbers, Schoolhouse 1 (according to ads, articles, and RCA materials)

April: (national rollout occurs) Tennis/Squash late in the month (according to newspaper reports and RCA materials)

May 15: Baseball (RCA materials)

July: Blackjack? (listed as summer in RCA's ad materials) (the month was noted in TV digest 6-6-77 that says it was to come out in July, mentioned again as added to the lineup in the 9-19 issue that lists RCA's plans)

August: Math Fun? (month according to TV digest 6-6-77, but mentioned again as "added to the lineup" in same 9-19 issue)

Early Fall?: Gunfighter/Moonship Battle, Speedway/Tag (possibly in october?)

November 15: Biorhythm (RCA press release dated Nov 15, notes all other games have been released at this time)

In short, Blackjack and Math Fun either came out those months or in September - it's possible they had localized availability in those earlier months and were only available nationally by September. The same 9-19 issue of Television Digest does also indicate that Combat was now "added" to the VCS library, for what it's worth. Unfortunately RCA's own documentation doesn't indicate when they were shipping out Math Fun, Blackjack, Gunfighter/Moonship Battle or Speedway/Tag, and none of the TV Digest materials I have access to mention the latter two games in the least. Nothing even hints at Bingo.

 

Just a little update to this - I forgot about the September 6, 1977 newspaper article in the Galveston Business Review that got posted in this thread a while back that mentions Gunfighter/Moonship Battle as being available at the Melody Record shop in town. So I suppose at the latest it would have been available in August or September in at least some areas, though no idea how prevalent it was. Still no word on speedway/tag.

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Posting up my new Atari Archive video because it has direct connections to this thread: an investigation into the history of the RCA Studio II, from the FRED days through the arcade machines, the Studio III and IV, the Cosmac Elf and VIP, and on to NASA space probes. It's a combination of information from this thread, info from the TCNJ and Hagley archives, and interviews with Joyce Weisbecker, Bob Winder, Jef Winsor, CT Wu, Fauxscot, and Andy Modla. I hope it serves as a good summary of events as we know them up to now!

 

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Posting up my new Atari Archive video because it has direct connections to this thread: an investigation into the history of the RCA Studio II, from the FRED days through the arcade machines, the Studio III and IV, the Cosmac Elf and VIP, and on to NASA space probes. It's a combination of information from this thread, info from the TCNJ and Hagley archives, and interviews with Joyce Weisbecker, Bob Winder, Jef Winsor, CT Wu, Fauxscot, and Andy Modla. I hope it serves as a good summary of events as we know them up to now!

 

 

ACH the Apollo 80 was a UK clone not German. I know some sites say Germany but I have no idea where that information originated from. As far as I know no Academy electronics were ever sold in Germany.

 

:P

 

otherwise good video.

Edited by TLD1985
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi,

Today I released Emma 02 V1.27, exactly 6 months after the last release.
Main changes
- Added emulators for the RCA Studio IV, FRED 1 and FRED 2
- Added SW from The Sarnoff Collection at The College of New Jersey
- Added SW from The Hagley Museum and Library: Sarnoff/RCA Collection
- Re-designed pseudo code (dis)assembler and added support for pseudo code for the Studio IV, FRED 1 CARDTRAN, FRED 2 FEL-1, FPL-2, FPL-4, Coin Arcade GPL-A (2K ROM and 2K RAM versions), GPL-2, GPL-3, GPL-4 and VIP STK and Test Word languages.
I think this version has some historical value, I guess you might have seen Kevin’s video which told part of the story. Now you can see these prototypes running in Emma 02. Including the FRED 1 running on a SYSTEM00 CPU which was a prototype in itself with a simplified 1801 instruction set. Also note the large amount of pseudo code languages added! Before this I only knew about the Studio II and Chip 8 languages. The Emma 02 help pages list all pseudo code syntaxes as well as the SYSTEM00 CPU syntax.
One other very interesting finding was the FREDs using tones on tapes which caused the FREDs to stop the tape. As such allowing spoken text on the tape to be controlled by the FRED. Some examples are Fred Demos, Clue, Prog. Apt. Test, Deduce and Add Drill. There is also a Bowling game with actual bowling sounds which start playing when you roll a ball. Last the Animate Demo loads data from the tape more or less directly to the screen memory. None of these wav files are included in the installation packages to keep the size of the package small, however if selected in Emma 02 they will be downloaded after ‘ok’ from the user.
Last finding I would like to share is the tape load and save functions of the FRED 1 and 2 which is not done by the main CPU but via additional HW. This forced me to add functionality in Emma 02 to emulate the actual tape format conversion. This was a first for me as all other 180x computers I have seen so far have used the CPU with Q and EF flags for the tape I/O. I found 2 different tape formats, one using two different tone frequencies to identify 0 and 1s which I have called '5.2/6.2 Tone’ and a second format used later on called ‘PM System’ in RCA documentation. The last used 2 pulses to indicate a 0 and 5 pulses for a 1 with silences in-between the pulses. The PM System format is faster and more reliable than the frequency format.
All SW (that I got running in some way) from the Sarnoff collections at TCNJ and Hagley are included with approval from Flori Pierri and Kevin Martin. I would also like to thank Paul Robson, Andy Modla, Herb Johnson, Flori Pierri, Kevin Bunch and Ed Keefe for their work, input and support for this version. Without their work most of this version would not have been possible.
Detailed change log is included on my web site: https://emma02.hobby-site.com/changelog.html, more details about the FRED 1, FRED 2 and Coin Arcade machine will follow later.
Downloads for Linux, OS-X and windows can be found as usual on: https://emma02.hobby-site.com/download.html
Bug reports and/or comments are welcome.
Cheers, Marcel.
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