Tagged: second generation

Second-generation (sometime called the early 8-bit era) refers to video game systems between 1976 and 1984.

Videomaster / Voltmace Database Games-Computer (1980 – early 1980s)

The Voltmace Database Games-Computer was a second-generation game console first sold in the UK in 1980. The machine was originally made in Hong Kong, and Voltmace approached the Videomaster arm of the Waddington’s company to offer to sell their machine to the UK market. In early 1981, Voltmace purchased the rights to the machine and began production in the UK. Voltmace improved quality control and provided good after-sales service, but the Database Games-Computer couldn’t compete with rivals like the Atari 2600, Intellivision and Colecovision.

The Database Games-Computer was one of a group of consoles that are part of the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System family, all of which are software compatible, but some of which use different shape or size cartridges.

29 cartridges were available for the Database Games-Computer, shared with the rest of the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System family , but there were also two that were unique; Munch & Crunch, and Leapfrog.

Like the other systems in the group of consoles, there were two controllers with a 12 buttons keypad, 2 fire buttons and a joystick. Plastic overlays were supplied with games to show the functions of the buttons on the keypad.

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GCE / Milton Bradley Vectrex (1983 – 1984)

The Vectrex was a second-generation video game console that was introduced in 1982. It was first licensed and distributed by General Consumer Electronics (GCE), and then by the Milton Bradley Company.

Milton Bradley’s far greater resources allowed the Vectrex to be released in parts of Europe within a few months of the buyout in 1983, and through a co-branding agreement with Bandai, in Japan as well. However, the Video game crash of 1983 turned Milton Bradley’s support of the Vectrex into a costly mistake and it was discontinued in 1984.

Unlike other video game consoles, which connected to televisions and rendered raster graphics, the Vectrex had an integrated vector monitor which displayed vector graphics. It was monochrome and used plastic screen overlays to simulate colour. At the time, many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and through a licensing deal with Cinematronics, GCE was able to produce high-quality versions of arcade games such as Space Wars and Armor Attack.

Vectrex came with a built-in game, MineStorm. Two peripherals were also available for the Vectrex, a light pen and a 3D imager, and 29 games were released for the system before it was discontinued.

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ColecoVision (1982 – 1985)

The ColecoVision was Coleco Industries’ second generation home video game console, and  was released in 1982. It offered near-arcade-quality graphics and gaming style along with the means to expand the system’s basic hardware.

Approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984. In addition, Expansion Module #1 made the ColecoVision compatible with Atari 2600 cartridges, giving the ColecoVision the largest software library of any console of its day.

All first-party cartridges and most third-party software titles feature a 12-second pause before presenting the game select screen. This delay results from an intentional loop in the console’s BIOS to enable on-screen display of the ColecoVision brand. Companies like Parker Brothers, Activision, and Micro Fun bypassed this loop, which necessitated embedding portions of the BIOS outside the delay loop, further reducing storage available to actual game programming.

Coleco licensed Nintendo’s Donkey Kong as the official bundled cartridge for all ColecoVision consoles, helping to boost the console’s popularity. By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold more than 500,000 units. The ColecoVision’s main competitor was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200.

As a result of the video game crash of 1983, by the beginning of 1984, quarterly sales of the ColecoVision had dramatically decreased and over the next 18 months, the Coleco company ramped down its video game division, discontinuing the ColecoVision in late 1985.

The Nintendo Entertainment System’s design and technology was influenced by the ColecoVision. The two are very similar in specifications and hardware features such as tile-based sprites.

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Atari 5200 SuperSystem (1982 – 1984)

Atari 5200The Atari 5200 SuperSystem was a second-generation video game console introduced by Atari in 1982, and intended to be a higher-end complimentary system to the Atari 2600.

The 5200 was created to compete with the Intellivision, but more directly competed with the ColecoVision shortly after its release.

The 5200 was based on Atari’s existing 400/800 computers and the internal hardware was almost identical, although software was not directly compatible between the two systems. It was also, initially, not compatible with games for the 2600, and this may have hurt sales. Its non-centering analogue controllers, and high asking price were also criticised.

A total of 69 games were officially released for the 5200.

In 1984 the Atari 7800 ProSystem was announced (although not finally released until 1986 in the US), and the 5200 discontinued after just two years, although in that time it still managed to sell in excess of 1 million units.

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Epoch Cassette Vision (1981 – 1984)

The Cassette Vision was a second-generation video game console made by Epoch and released in Japan only in 1981.

The only controls were four knobs (two for each player, one for horizontal movement, one for vertical) built into the console itself, along with two fire buttons per player. The graphics were very basic and comparable to the first games offered for the Bally Home Library Computer.

Only 11 games were released for the Cassette Vision.

A smaller, cheaper, version called the Cassette Vision Jr. (with detachable controllers) was introduced in 1983, but both were succeeded by the Super Cassette Vision in 1984.

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Emerson Arcadia 2001 (1982 – 1984)

The Arcadia 2001 was a second-generation game console introduced by Emerson Radio Corp in 1982.

It was smaller than its competitors and could be powered by a 12-volt power supply.

The Arcadia 2001 was licensed to many different companies and sold under different names. However, although the different versions are software compatible, not all cartridges are compatible, due to differences in cart slots and cases.

There were at least three different types of cartridge case styles and artwork. Emerson-family carts come in two different lengths of black plastic cases; the short style is similar to Atari 2600 carts in overall size. MPT-03 family cart cases resemble Super NES carts in size and shape, except that they are moulded in brown plastic.

46 games were released for the system.

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Mattel Intellivision / Intellivision II (1979 – 1990)

Intellivison was a second-generation video game console introduced by Mattel in 1979.

The Intellivision was also rebadged by a number of retailers and sold under name such as Sears Super Video Arcade and Radio Shack TandyVision. Its main competitor was the Atari VCS.

It was very successful and over 3 million consoles were sold, with a total of 125 games released.

A Keyboard Component was promoted as a soon-to-be-available accessory for 1981, and this would turn the Intellivision into a functional home computer. However, it was never made widely available due to reliability and cost issues and was cancelled in 1982 to be replaced by a much simpler module called the Entertainment Computer System (ECS).

In 1982 also saw the introduction of the redesigned Intellivision II, which was smaller and cheaper to manufacture. Intellivision cartridges were compatible, but some changes to the internal ROM meant some games had minor glitches.

The video game crash of 1983 led to price reductions and losses, and early in 1984 Mattel closed its electronics division. The rights to Intellivision and remaining stock were sold to INTV Corp. and consoles were manufactured until 1990.

Philips Videopac (1978 – 1984)

The Philips Videopac (known in the US as the Magnavox Odyssey²) was a second-generation video game console released in 1978 by Magnavox, a subsidiary of Philips.

As well as being able to play games, the Videopac had a membrane keyboard for programming.

In Europe it sold well, sometimes under different brand names.

Videopac game cartridges are mostly compatible with US Odyssey² consoles, although some games have colour differences and a few are completely incompatible. A number of additional games were released in Europe that never came out in the US. The cartridges were normally 2 KB, 4 KB, or 8 KB in size.

The Videopac was discontinued in 1984.

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Atari VCS / 2600 (1977 – 1992)

The Atari 2600 (originally named VCS until 1982) was introduced in 1977. It was second-generation video game console and was very successful. Although the Fairchild Channel F was the first console to use ROM cartridges, the Atari 2600 was the system that popularised them.

The unit was originally shipped with two joysticks and a Combat cartridge (eight additional games were available at launch and sold separately). Cartridges were normally limited to 4 KB, but later games used bank-switching to increase this. Cartridges were produced in a number of different shapes and designs by third-parties.

Public disappointment with the Pac-Man and E.T. games, and the market saturation of poor third-party titles are cited as big reasons for the video game crash of 1983.

The Atari 2600 continued to be produced until the beginning of 1992. Over its lifetime, an estimated 30 million units were shipped.

Gallery

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Wikpedia entry for Atari 2600

Youtube review of cartridge designs for the 2600

Interton VC 4000 (1978 – 1983)

The VC 4000 is an 8-bit German games console introduced by Interton in 1978.

It is one of a number of consoles that are part of the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System family, all of which are software compatible, but some of which use different shape or size cartridges.

Games for the VC 4000 were released on ROM cartridges known as ‘cassettes’, of which 40 were released.

It was discontinued in 1983.

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