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Lost/Cancelled Pong Consoles?


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I kind of want to do a Lost Gaming Vault entry on lost/cancelled Pong consoles. So far all I know about is Atari's Pong Doubles, Magnavox's Odyssey 5000, and A Tank console from Atari (I think it was talked about here, but I'm too lazy to look right now). Are there any more I can add to the list?

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There was indeed a Tank console planned by Atari. It even made ad appearances before it was canceled.

 

tankii.jpg

 

Speaking of Atari units, IMO the release status of Super Pong Pro-Am (C-200) is extremely debatable. They exist, but they're extraordinarily rare. Even photos of the system are very few and very far between. The Sears version (Super Pong, Model 99788) is likely even rarer; as far as I can tell, the only one that's even known to exist is the one in my collection. Information is even scarcer than for its Atari brother, and photo documentation nonexistent outside of my thread about the system. The only contemporary mention I can find of it is in the 1977 Sears Wishbook. The rarity of both of these systems points to "unreleased" to me, or at least "test batch" or "limited release."

 

I don't believe Pong Doubles has even been confirmed to exist, although Pong Doubles boxes do, and were sometimes used to package Super Pong Ten systems (I was recently outbid on one such example on eBay, d'oh!). The Sears version, Pong IV, does exist, but IMO it's up there with the Pro-Am in rarity.

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Given the almost complete absence of video game magazines from the mid-to-late-1970s when Pong clones were at their peak, I would suggest looking through something like Popular Electronics https://worldradiohistory.com/Popular-Electronics-Guide.htm in search of announcements of new products. The January 1978 issue, for example, has an article about the current state of Pong systems and other electronic games.

 

Personal Computing magazine https://archive.org/details/personalcomputingmagazine?sort=-date began publication in 1977, so there may be some coverage of Pong systems in the early issues. 

 

In all cases, additional research would be required to ascertain what advertised or announced products never actually came to market.

 

 

 

 

 

  

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4 hours ago, King Atari said:

 

Fascinating, thanks! Do you know what magazine this appeared in? I'd sure like to keep an eye out for it!

I think this was from a dealer brochure or something. Note the left page is about Stunt Cycle.

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18 hours ago, BassGuitari said:

I think this was from a dealer brochure or something. Note the left page is about Stunt Cycle.

 

Ah, yes, that makes sense. Very cool to see - and really interesting that they were proposing to use (very slightly modified, it seems) 2600-style joysticks. Do you know of the possibility of test units potentially being out there, or is this pretty definitively a "never happened at all" sort of thing?

(I have a real fascination with the non-Pong, erm, Pong consoles, so this is definitely a "say what?!" revelation to me. Kinda-related backstory: way back in '04, there was a used game store nearby with a number of now-costlier items that were decently priced even for that time, never mind nowadays. Among them was a Coleco Telstar Combat, I can't remember for how much but it wasn't too bad. But despite having the money on me then, I inexplicably passed it up - mistake! Somehow I regret this even more than passing on the also-decently-priced TurboExpress and pricey-but-not-unreasonable 2600 Quest For Quintana Roo.)

Edited by King Atari
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5 hours ago, King Atari said:

 

Ah, yes, that makes sense. Very cool to see - and really interesting that they were proposing to use (very slightly modified, it seems) 2600-style joysticks. Do you know of the possibility of test units potentially being out there, or is this pretty definitively a "never happened at all" sort of thing?

(I have a real fascination with the non-Pong, erm, Pong consoles, so this is definitely a "say what?!" revelation to me. Kinda-related backstory: way back in '04, there was a used game store nearby with a number of now-costlier items that were decently priced even for that time, never mind nowadays. Among them was a Coleco Telstar Combat, I can't remember for how much but it wasn't too bad. But despite having the money on me then, I inexplicably passed it up - mistake! Somehow I regret this even more than passing on the also-decently-priced TurboExpress and pricey-but-not-unreasonable 2600 Quest For Quintana Roo.)

Based on my research, I lean toward "never happened," at least far as any kind of actual release goes. However, Curt Vendel said in this thread that a small number of Tank units went out (meaning "released," I assume?), but wasn't clear whether they were test units. If true, I assume they were. Curt would know better than I would on this, but I have to say I find it dubious. Certainly at least one example would have turned up by now.

 

IIRC the Tank joysticks were actually the basis for the Video Computer System's joysticks, with some slight redesigning into what we know as the CX-10 joystick. In Art Of Atari, designer Kevin McKinsey says: "I was always embarrassed--it wasn't the easiest controller to hold in your hand, with angular edges and kind of square. But it was designed to nest in that Tank game. It ended up as a standalone thing, but didn't really go with anything else [on the 2600] visually, really. Initially they were going to be hard-wired, but I thought if I put them on umbilicals, two people could play simultaneously. I tried to make the boot look no-nonsense and military. The only reason I put a boot on it was because it looked like something that might be on a tank--to keep out dust, dirt, and such...If I were going to design an XY controller, it wouldn't look like what I designed. It wasn't very ergonomic. If I knew it was going to sell that many, I would have designed it easier to hold. But it stayed the same, right down to how it actuated on the inside."

 

And I forgot that Sears' version of Tank made it into one of their catalogs:

 

searsxmas19773.jpg

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  • 1 year later...
On 7/18/2020 at 9:47 PM, BassGuitari said:

There was indeed a Tank console planned by Atari. It even made ad appearances before it was canceled.

 

tankii.jpg

 

If those joysticks look familiar, they evolved into the CX-10 / CX-40 and released with the 2600.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you so much for sharing, Riles! ?

 

Can I ask about your story with your Pro-Am system? Chiefly when/where you got it, or any information on its provenance? Or any stories or memories you have of it? Any insight or experience you can provide would be valuable to shedding some more light on this system. ?

 

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I believe I bought it at Service Merchandise and was my first " video game". Played it with a buddy of mine, a neighbor, almost every night for the first couple of weeks, then it tapered off. My parents were probably tired of us, four kids, fighting over who got to play and started restricting play time to weekends only and don't remember much after that.

My mom must have boxed it and put it away until I recently found it going through all my old stuff. Unfortunately the original box is long gone.

Probably will post it for sale on ebay, etc. as we're cutting down on what we will keep as we get ready to move.

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On 2/23/2022 at 4:27 PM, Riles said:

I believe I bought it at Service Merchandise and was my first " video game". Played it with a buddy of mine, a neighbor, almost every night for the first couple of weeks, then it tapered off. My parents were probably tired of us, four kids, fighting over who got to play and started restricting play time to weekends only and don't remember much after that.

My mom must have boxed it and put it away until I recently found it going through all my old stuff. Unfortunately the original box is long gone.

Probably will post it for sale on ebay, etc. as we're cutting down on what we will keep as we get ready to move.

 Interesting! Do you recall if Service Merchandise had the game in stock at your location, or did it have to be ordered and picked up later? I'm wondering if Atari sent out C-200 units on a per-order basis in order to honor contracts with [catalog] retailers who may have been left in the lurch when it was canceled after their own advertisements and catalogs had already gone to print. (Or something to that effect. ?)

 

Thanks for sharing your story! I think a lot of early dedicated video games like these had a similar lifecycle: moderate to heavy use for a few weeks, followed by waning interest and neglect, before finally a parent or somebody gets sick of it collecting dust in the living room and consigns it to a closet, basement, or crawlspace. ? 

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