Binary Dinosaurs Computer Museum
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PONG!
I wonder where we'd be right now if Ralph Baer hadn't have designed TVs for a living and Willy Higginbotham hadn't had the idea to produce a 'tennis' style game using his oscilloscope as a display back in 1956? His was slightly different to the later 'Chase' game produced by Ralph Baer of Sanders Associates in that it was modelled on a proper tennis court, viewed from the side, complete with net! A circuit was wired up to produce a 'pong' noise and that's as far as the idea went. Shift forward a few years and Ralph builds more prototype chase and bat'n'ball games which resulted in the production of the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey - a console that had discrete circuitry that was capable of moving white squares round a TV screen in response to the controllers, and plug in 'cartridges' that could modift the blocks' behaviour thus producing game modifications.
Confusion arises with the Odyssey only being marketed with Magnavox TV sets, so people think the game only works on Magnavox TVs! Nolan Bushnell begins a bandwagon by starting Atari and bringing in Alan Alcorn to produce the world's first Arcade 'Pong', resulting in the world's first videogame based lawsuit when Magnavox sues Atari! Settling out of court, both went their separate ways and produced other pong games.
Come 1975 and General Instruments release the chip which changed Pong consoles almost overnight - the AY-3-8500. Known as 'pong-on-a-chip' it could play 6 games, tennis, football, squash, solo, practice and 2 target games for use with a lightgun. Within a year there were several hundred pong consoles available, all doing the same thing!
'Rebadging' was rife - an anonymous company would build a console and license it to other manufacturers to put their own badges on, and obviously these varied from country to country; typical European rebadgers were the likes of Interton, Adman (later Grandstand), Tandy, Interstate, Videomaster and many more. Others, like Binatone and Voltmace, built their own consoles.
The next stage was colour pongs, either through discrete components or with a single National Semiconductor MM-57105 chip.
Finally there were programmable or cartridge systems, which contained enough circuitry to draw a background, scores and player sprites. The games came on ROM cartridges which provided the game variants; the first system of this type was the Fairchild Channel F released in 1976, though it wasn't a really big success since it was more expensive than a traditional Pong system.
In 1977 Atari released the CX2600 - the Video Computer System or VCS. Remembered now as 'the console that started it all' it wasn't that popular when it was released and other consoles appeared; Magnavox Odyssey 2 (Philips G7000 over here), Bally Astrocade etc. The Astrocade was actually a much superior machine (and I want one!), but the VCS' popularity exploded when Atari licensed and released 'Space Invaders' followed by other arcade classics. VCS based machines weren't killed off till 1992!
Another prolific board builder of the time was Radofin, based in Hong Kong. Not only did they design and build their own machines, they also licensed the design for either rebadging or total redesign. Systems like the Radofin Telesports, Acetronic MPU1000 and 2000, Prinztronic Tournament etc were compatible with each other, but a company better known for their joysticks in the 80s, Voltmace, bought the design, built their own hardware and released it as the 'Videomaster Database.'
Other manufacturers like Hanimex and Grandstand produced compatible systems too, based round the General Instruments AY-3-8600 chip.
Despite the popularity of pong and cartridge systems, the sudden rise in popularity of the home computer and the Japanese entry with the Sega Master and Nintendo Famicom systems effectively killed off most of the systems by the late 80s.
'Tennis' Pongs
Adman Grandstand *colour* Pong boxed complete with lightgun.
Conic TVG101-4, on its own.
Grandstand 2000, boxed, not in the best nick.
Grandstand 3600 MK II boxed.
Grandstand 5000 boxed. Tatty, but ask me if I care :)
Grandstand 6000 on its own.
Interton video 2400 game circa 1977? And it still works......
Interstate Mini TV Game 1104, boxed
Interstate big-box pong.
Interstate 1160 pong, mostly boxed with lightgun.
Interstate pong, first version of the above 2 with dials instead of joysticks. With carboard outer.
Videomaster Superscore, perfect boxed like they'd never used it since 1976! Boxed lightgun too....
Videomaster Colourscore boxed in almost perfect condition - just missing the end flap on the box!
Coleco Telstar one-piece, boxed, badged by Palitoy. 1977, and boy does it look it!
Binatone TV Master mk4, brown variant, boxed, excellent
Binatone TV Master mk4, orange variant, boxed, excellent. 1978.
Binatone TV Master mk4, colour! Boxed, not quite mint but still in the original poly bag. Box actually says 'model 01/4931'
Binatone TV Master mk6, brown variant (colour), boxed. 1979!
Binatone TV Master mk6, orange variant (mono), boxed
Binatone TV Master mk8, boxed-ish (no poly)
Tandy 'TV Scoreboard' one-piece pong in tasteful brown.
Optim Sports pong, identical to the Tandy in everything but knob layout :) Boxed.
Winthronics pong, identical to the above 2!
Radofin TeleSports 'Mentor'
Radofin Color TV Game. Slightly different games with this one.
Optim Sport mini-pong, boxed in excellent condition
Prinztronic Videoport 800 pong with handsets.
Prinztronic Tournament 6
VideoTronic II pong. Odd looking beast.new!
Programmable Pongs
Grandstand Video Entertainment Computer, aka Fairchild Channel F II programmable pong. Smart!
Grandstand VEC, as above but in original Fairchild box.
Grandstand SD070 Colour Programmable pong. Endorsed by Kevin Keegan! Boxed mint.
Hanimex VG3000 cartridge console - licensed from Magnavox, so I need more info on that one.
Interton VC4000 cartridge pong, boxed in excellent condition but with v.battered outer.
Voltmace (Videomaster) 'Database' late 70s cartridge pong, boxed with 2 boxed games.
Binatone TV Master mk10, boxed.
Binatone Superstar *colour* cartridge machine, boxed.
Binatone Superstar, bought purely for the boxed Knockout cart :)
Acetronic MPU1000, boxed, with loads of mint boxed games. 1979.
Acetronic MPU2000 with Invaders cart.
Radofin Telesports 3, boxed
Radofin Telesports 4
Teleng Colourstars cart machine with 3 carts. Looks v.old!
Boxed Teleng Colourstars, missing the controllers and PSU though. Machine's in excellent nick.
4 boxed games for the Prinztronic, Acetronic, Radofin.
Acetronic carts: (* = MIB)
1 Olympics*
2 Grand Prix (boxed)
3 Blackjack
6 Shooting Gallery*
13 Circus*
25 Electronic Pinball (x2)*
26 Super Knockout*
27 Invaders*
30 Space War*
31 Laser Attack*

All images and text © Adrian Graham 1999-2014 unless otherwise noted using words.