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.