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

RCA Studio II Interview

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#501 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 2:04 PM

Well, I've just been through the worst computer repair fiasco of my life—random computer crashes, backup software that doesn't work, replaced motherboard followed by replaced graphics card-apparently the graphics card killed the motherboard in a bizarre murder-suicide. Anyway, I think I've finally got everything working, so I could finish up the newsletter scanning task.

 

y-bot sent me seven issues of Micro Studio News—issues 0-6. It ran from July 1979 to May 1980. Issue 0 was an original newsletter, and was a short, free issue to promote the newsletter. The others were available with a paid subscription. I only got photocopies of these (probably copied long ago). For the most part, these are easily readable. Issue 6 does mention some material prepared for the next issue, which would have been the first issue of the second volume. But they also discuss the struggle to get subscribers, so I suspect these are the only issues ever released.

 

The newsletter tends to be quite technical. Most of it is user-submitted programs. These had to be typed in hexadecimal using a homebrew cart. There was also no way to save the programs. I'm not surprised that this didn't catch on. Computers and even some consoles, like the Astrocade, had official support for languages like BASIC and could load and save using external media like cassette tapes. I'm impressed by the people who did program under these constraints, though. If anyone uses these to make ROM files, please let us know.

 

Most people will probably want the black and white scans, which only total 9MB. I've also uploaded my original grayscale scans—185MB total. The only real problem I noticed is page 4 of Issue 3, which is difficult to read in the lower left corner. It looks just as bad on the photocopy, though.

 

Black and White: http://www.mediafire...dio_News_bw.zip

 

Grayscale: http://www.mediafire...dio_News_bw.zip

 

I hope someone finds these interesting. If anyone sees problems with the scans, let me know soon, since I don't want to hang onto the paper version much longer. Thanks y-bot for the loan and for your patience!

 

ARESCO- from Columbia Maryland??? That's less than a half-hour away from me! Holy shit, I had no idea the Studio II mailing club was right in my own backyard. You bet I'll be looking into this...

 

QUICK EDIT: THEY'RE STILL AROUND!!!:

 

http://www.bizapedia...CORPORATED.html

 

contact intiated... We'll see where this goes!


Edited by Blazing Lazers, Sun Feb 2, 2014 2:08 PM.


#502 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 3:15 PM

Just made some quick calls and search inquiries- the person we need to find is one Terry L. Laudereau. He was the guy behind the newsletters, and also some for CHIP-8 programming. If we can find him, he could be a huge source of info. The page I linked to above for the ARESCO business listing has an address that is apparently now occupied by a lawn-service company. I called and nobody had any idea who Terry Laudereau is.



#503 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 3:32 PM

It looks like Terry also edited The VIPER newsletter for the Cosmac VIP.

 

http://mattmik.com/d...ume1Issue01.pdf

 

I've never really used the paid services for finding people, but this might be him:

 

http://www.backgroun...ry-l-laudereau/



#504 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 4:03 PM

It looks like Terry also edited The VIPER newsletter for the Cosmac VIP.

 

http://mattmik.com/d...ume1Issue01.pdf

 

I've never really used the paid services for finding people, but this might be him:

 

http://www.backgroun...ry-l-laudereau/

Yep, several similar newsletters that Terry worked on back in the day came up, mostly on Internet Archive searches. And to note, Terry isn't a him at all- the back of the first issue of the S2 newsletter indicates that Terry is a she. One who is in her 70's by now, since I also saw the link indicating she is around 72.

 

Thank you immensely for posting those newsletters, btw. Several of the issues have lists of subscribers, and one indicates that at least 76 or so subscribers were active at one point. 27 of them are named in one of the issues (submissions for a name the newsletter contest), so this is a huge, huge breakthrough in terms of people who might know stuff or even still have some stuff from the time. I've already looked up some of the people who wrote articles in- one Chris Barrish of the Mentor, Ohio area looks like a very good bet, if anyone would want to contact him...

 

Btw, who is this "V.A. Samek" that all the newsletters were originally addressed to? That might be a good person to check as well...

 

I've been pursuing some other S2-related leads, but things have really gotten sporadic lately. For now though, these newsletters could be a gold mine of new discoveries!

 

And to save everyone else the trouble, I already read through them all and saw no mention of the word "Bingo" in ANY of them ;)



#505 y-bot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 7:46 PM

Thanks for scanning those. Glad they can be shared with the community now.

#506 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 2, 2014 7:54 PM

Thanks for scanning those. Glad they can be shared with the community now.

Seconded! There's a lot of names in those newsletters of some long-ago enthusiasts who might still have information/stories, ect to share!



#507 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:30 PM

I'm curious, is there any news on the Multi-Cart front? The homebrews were really amazing, and it would be awesome to be able to play them on the actual hardware. 



#508 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:42 PM

Yikes, I can't believe it's been over a year since I started this thread as a way of sharing some interesting information I'd discovered about the Studio II, and that it's been a while longer than I'd realized since I'd posted anything new here. So, having just read through the whole thread and realized that it seems to have suddenly halted, it's now time to relate what else I've discovered since the last substantial postings:

 

1) Bingo is still unconfirmed as having been a US release, but it does seem likely at this point. Too much circumstantial evidence hints at this for any other conclusion to be drawn.

 

2) Andy Modla, who programmed many (though not all) of the US Studio II games, has not returned my emails in many months. He did confirm having programmed Bingo in earlier messages, and also indicated that he still has stuff (including prototypes) from his time with RCA. Quite obviously whatever he still has, in addition to whatever he remembers, is of immense interest. I strongly advise that some sort of concerted effort be made to interview him or even to offer to buy whatever he might still have. He did indicate a willingness to be interviewed in his few responses to me. Contact info for him is easy to come by online, and he also happens to be an talented photographer. He needs to be Priority One for us if we're to move forward with this team effort. 

 

3) Terry Laudereau of ARESCO, who ran the Studio II programming club, is probably still alive, though apparently she went blind many years ago and has not had any involvement with computers or programming for many many years. I've been unable to contact her. Nobody I've been able to reach has any idea of ARESCO, including neighbors of the house where it was located. I actually drove out and asked around. Perhaps somebody else will have better luck. Similarly, almost all of the names from the programming club newsletters have turned out to be dead ends, likely literally in many cases. I'm still looking into a few. I was however able to contact the "V.A. Samek" (real name Vitres Samek) to whom the newsletters had originally belonged, and spoke briefly with him on the phone. He was quite surprised that anyone would contact him about an old computer setup he got rid of years ago, and only vaguely remembers having had a Studio II. And nothing of Bingo, of course.

 

4) Several older collector contacts of mine (including some who helped me find some very rare Arcadia games a while back) who tend to avoid forums have indicated that they're familiar with the Bingo game, and one who asked not to be named (and whose full name I don't even know) confirmed that he too had seen it at the Philly Classic show the time it appeared, and that he remembered a store display too. Not that such was in doubt at this point.

 

5) I've been in continuing touch with Fauxscot this whole time. He does still work full time for a living taking on interesting technical projects. The multicart will likely happen at some point in the near future, but we'll have to wait for the time being. I'm certain after all these years we can wait a little longer.

 

6) Fauxscot did put me in contact with a friend of his who just happens to be the man who hired him for RCA back in the day, and who I was able to exchange some very informative and rewarding phone calls and correspondence with. In addition to being gracious enough to send me his personal Studio II system (and near-full set of games) he also revealed some very interesting details, including:

  • The origin of what would become the Studio II goes back to at least 1975 if not earlier. Before it was ever turned into a home console, RCA test marketed an arcade machine consisting of 5 games/programs at several New Jersey shopping malls in 1975. He even saw and experienced them firsthand on some business trips up North to RCA's main locations. He did not recall (at least, not when I asked) the name of the machines, but confirmed that the games were the same that would later be the 5 built-in to the Studio II system. He also confirmed that these short-lived market tests were not successful, and that RCA's plans to enter the arcade industry with these multi-game machines were quickly abandoned in favor of turning the system into a home game console. If nothing else, this explains the outdated feel of the Studio II in 1976 terms, it does feel more like 1974/1975 game styles.
  • The boxes, stickers, and instruction manuals for the games (and presumably the printed materials for TV Schoolhouse I) were apparently printed elsewhere up North and shipped in bulk down to the Swannanoa plant where the cartridges were assembled and the games were then packaged together. Where exactly they were manufactured and printed (presumably at Deptford) he was uncertain of.
  • He did seem to be familiar with there having been a Bingo game for the system, and was familiar with what  I meant when I asked about certain games having oversized boxes with extra contents. Yet more circumstantial evidence for it having actually existed.

7) Most of what I'm still focusing on is trying to track down the remaining members of the programming club. Unfortunately, none seem to have any online presence and I've yet to hear back from the few who I've been able to find contact info from. I'll report back if I do establish contact with any.



#509 y-bot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:16 PM

Thanks for following up on this. Fascinating info.

#510 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 14, 2014 11:04 PM

Impressive effort there. I was particularly interested in hearing about the arcade machine tested in 1975. The first widely released arcade game to use a microprocessor (rather than a bunch of TTL chips) is Midway's Gun Fight, which also came out in 1975. So if RCA's game used a CPU like the Studio II, it would be an extremely early example of this. If there's a way to track down more information, I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about the game, and seeing if anything from it (photos, documents, ROMs, etc.) still exists.



#511 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:43 AM

Yikes, I can't believe it's been over a year since I started this thread as a way of sharing some interesting information I'd discovered about the Studio II, and that it's been a while longer than I'd realized since I'd posted anything new here. So, having just read through the whole thread and realized that it seems to have suddenly halted, it's now time to relate what else I've discovered since the last substantial postings:

 

1) Bingo is still unconfirmed as having been a US release, but it does seem likely at this point. Too much circumstantial evidence hints at this for any other conclusion to be drawn.

 

2) Andy Modla, who programmed many (though not all) of the US Studio II games, has not returned my emails in many months. He did confirm having programmed Bingo in earlier messages, and also indicated that he still has stuff (including prototypes) from his time with RCA. Quite obviously whatever he still has, in addition to whatever he remembers, is of immense interest. I strongly advise that some sort of concerted effort be made to interview him or even to offer to buy whatever he might still have. He did indicate a willingness to be interviewed in his few responses to me. Contact info for him is easy to come by online, and he also happens to be an talented photographer. He needs to be Priority One for us if we're to move forward with this team effort. 

 

3) Terry Laudereau of ARESCO, who ran the Studio II programming club, is probably still alive, though apparently she went blind many years ago and has not had any involvement with computers or programming for many many years. I've been unable to contact her. Nobody I've been able to reach has any idea of ARESCO, including neighbors of the house where it was located. I actually drove out and asked around. Perhaps somebody else will have better luck. Similarly, almost all of the names from the programming club newsletters have turned out to be dead ends, likely literally in many cases. I'm still looking into a few. I was however able to contact the "V.A. Samek" (real name Vitres Samek) to whom the newsletters had originally belonged, and spoke briefly with him on the phone. He was quite surprised that anyone would contact him about an old computer setup he got rid of years ago, and only vaguely remembers having had a Studio II. And nothing of Bingo, of course.

 

4) Several older collector contacts of mine (including some who helped me find some very rare Arcadia games a while back) who tend to avoid forums have indicated that they're familiar with the Bingo game, and one who asked not to be named (and whose full name I don't even know) confirmed that he too had seen it at the Philly Classic show the time it appeared, and that he remembered a store display too. Not that such was in doubt at this point.

 

5) I've been in continuing touch with Fauxscot this whole time. He does still work full time for a living taking on interesting technical projects. The multicart will likely happen at some point in the near future, but we'll have to wait for the time being. I'm certain after all these years we can wait a little longer.

 

6) Fauxscot did put me in contact with a friend of his who just happens to be the man who hired him for RCA back in the day, and who I was able to exchange some very informative and rewarding phone calls and correspondence with. In addition to being gracious enough to send me his personal Studio II system (and near-full set of games) he also revealed some very interesting details, including:

  • The origin of what would become the Studio II goes back to at least 1975 if not earlier. Before it was ever turned into a home console, RCA test marketed an arcade machine consisting of 5 games/programs at several New Jersey shopping malls in 1975. He even saw and experienced them firsthand on some business trips up North to RCA's main locations. He did not recall (at least, not when I asked) the name of the machines, but confirmed that the games were the same that would later be the 5 built-in to the Studio II system. He also confirmed that these short-lived market tests were not successful, and that RCA's plans to enter the arcade industry with these multi-game machines were quickly abandoned in favor of turning the system into a home game console. If nothing else, this explains the outdated feel of the Studio II in 1976 terms, it does feel more like 1974/1975 game styles.
  • The boxes, stickers, and instruction manuals for the games (and presumably the printed materials for TV Schoolhouse I) were apparently printed elsewhere up North and shipped in bulk down to the Swannanoa plant where the cartridges were assembled and the games were then packaged together. Where exactly they were manufactured and printed (presumably at Deptford) he was uncertain of.
  • He did seem to be familiar with there having been a Bingo game for the system, and was familiar with what  I meant when I asked about certain games having oversized boxes with extra contents. Yet more circumstantial evidence for it having actually existed.

7) Most of what I'm still focusing on is trying to track down the remaining members of the programming club. Unfortunately, none seem to have any online presence and I've yet to hear back from the few who I've been able to find contact info from. I'll report back if I do establish contact with any.

 

Wow, thank you for this update! Definitely well worth the wait. Thank you for all your hard work to uncover this amazing information. I'm excited to read about future discoveries as well as the upcoming multi-cart. This is beyond awesome!
 



#512 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:59 AM

I seem to remember someone in this topic made an emulator for the arduino uno.  If a multi cart is coming wouldn't it be great to have a new Studio II people could put together as well?  Something like that would be one of the first new classic systems to have hardware again.



#513 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2014 2:48 PM

I've occasionally tried to find more information/better photos of the Academy Apollo 80 euro-clone system but have had 0 luck.



#514 sut OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:27 PM

There was an Academy Apollo on ebay fairly recently. Unfortunately I lost the auction.

#515 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:18 PM

I got poor luck with an Hanimex version. Boxed and everything *.*

I got the seller at the phone, and he agreed to sell it to me. Then I got a message saying "I tried the console, it smoked, it's probably dead, sorry" I called back to say I wanted it anyway and I got a "well in fact... I sold it to someone else..." why thanks you...



#516 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:30 AM

Impressive effort there. I was particularly interested in hearing about the arcade machine tested in 1975. The first widely released arcade game to use a microprocessor (rather than a bunch of TTL chips) is Midway's Gun Fight, which also came out in 1975. So if RCA's game used a CPU like the Studio II, it would be an extremely early example of this. If there's a way to track down more information, I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about the game, and seeing if anything from it (photos, documents, ROMs, etc.) still exists.

 

He knew nothing of the technical details beyond that it was the original incarnation of what became the Studio II, that it had the 5 games in it, and was black and white. He did not remember the input method, if it was a kepyad or joystick or buttons. I do plan to contact him again with some additional questions, including other potential leads who might know more. It was in at least one major NJ mall in 1975, and he was fairly certain it was the Trenton Mall and the then newly opened Deptford Mall. Granted, he's going on nearly 40-year old memories about something nobody asked about until this year. I've been searching out info on this machine and on New Jersey malls circa 1975/1976.

 

However the machine was designed, it probably did have microprocessors in it, and may have also served RCA as an early test bed for commercial microprocessor applications. Unless there's some other way that multiple games could have been included on the same machine without microprocessors, it must've been that way.

 

I seem to remember someone in this topic made an emulator for the arduino uno.  If a multi cart is coming wouldn't it be great to have a new Studio II people could put together as well?  Something like that would be one of the first new classic systems to have hardware again.

 

Yep, that was discussed a while back, and is certainly doable. Fauxscot was also able to confirm that direct AC and video out mods were also doable, which would probably also revive many perfectly functional units that are missing the switchbox and/or power adapter.



#517 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:34 AM

I got poor luck with an Hanimex version. Boxed and everything *.*

I got the seller at the phone, and he agreed to sell it to me. Then I got a message saying "I tried the console, it smoked, it's probably dead, sorry" I called back to say I wanted it anyway and I got a "well in fact... I sold it to someone else..." why thanks you...

 

Which seller was this? I'd like to avoid such dishonest merchants. Shame that you lost the listing, but they made thousands of these units. It might be a while, but we can wait for a working unit. It's actually a good reason why the multicart (and even new systems) was delayed, until we can get a sample of every game and the hardware for it just so that we don't end up missing out on some unique functionality. Looking back through the thread it seems as though every one of the (Studio 3?) clones had slightly different functionality to it, on top of the different game documentation.



#518 ianoid OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:06 AM

Very nice!

#519 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:11 AM

Sadly just an anonymous seller on a French ad website.



#520 ssj OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 27, 2014 9:06 PM

Does anyone own a boxed TV Schoolhouse I for the Studio 2?

ranger_lennier did a great job scanning the boxes for all games and this is the only one missing, so if someone that owns it could scan the box (all sides) this would be awesome so we could have a full set of really high resolution scans available.



#521 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:37 AM

Does anyone own a boxed TV Schoolhouse I for the Studio 2?
ranger_lennier did a great job scanning the boxes for all games and this is the only one missing, so if someone that owns it could scan the box (all sides) this would be awesome so we could have a full set of really high resolution scans available.


I have a boxed copy that I think is in pretty decent shape. I will see if I can get to scanning it sometime today.

#522 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:52 PM

I have tried a few times to scan the top of the box but for some reason there is a blurry spot coming in the middle of each each scan I attempt.  Will try again another time soon, but probably not today; sorry.  BTW - what DPI is desired?  A 1200dpi scan produced an ~100MB JPG file.   600DPI file produces a ~2-3MB file.



#523 ccatalyst OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:30 PM

New console just came in today, I have been looking for this one for quite a few years and have only seen it come up twice in any auction or sales site, it is the Soundic Victory MPT-02, sort of cool the way the joystick assembly snaps into the numpad controller, I also took pictures from all the sides of the box, even though the box is in crappy shape, but al least everyone will
knows what it looks like from all sides. Also got it with 2 carts, here are the pics,


You can read more the MPT-02 here in this article from old-computers.com

"The Soundic Victory MPT-02 is a clone of one of the first home videogame systems, the RCA Studio II. In opposition to the Studio II, the Victory MPT-02 has detachable controllers.
Those controllers are composed of 10 buttons labeled from 0 to 9. More surprising, the Victory MPT-02 is the only Studio II clone system to offer alternative joysticks: real ones, with a stick
and a fire button, this made the system more practical for action games.

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#524 ssj OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:38 PM

I have tried a few times to scan the top of the box but for some reason there is a blurry spot coming in the middle of each each scan I attempt.  Will try again another time soon, but probably not today; sorry.  BTW - what DPI is desired?  A 1200dpi scan produced an ~100MB JPG file.   600DPI file produces a ~2-3MB file.

Thanks for offering to scan these. ranger_lennier scans are at 300dpi with the front scans coming out at around 4,5MB and the spines at 1,5MB (in png format).

So 300dpi should be good enough, but you can do 600dpi if you want. I think 1200dpi would be overkill.

Not sure why you are having those issues, but if you can't get them perfect we can always try to post process the scans to remove those spots.



#525 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:08 AM

I tried a number of times to upload a 600dpi version but I always received the error seen here so here is a scan of the top of the box @ 300dpi. You can see the blurriness in a number of places but I cant seem to find the cause. I've cleaned the top of my scanner but that hasnt helped. 

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