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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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#776 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:09 PM

So, quick inventory of known and possible Bingo copies:

 

1) Dan's copy from right after PC2K1, per his old post here:

 

 

Post PhillyClassic Brag (Studio II)
Other recipients:
 
I'm sure I'll never have a better brag, so here it goes....... My small contribution to PhillyClassic was setting up my RCA Studio II was the demo cart. I owned (at the time) about half of the Studio II catalog, but only brought the demonstration

 

I'm sure I'll never have a better brag, so here it goes.......

My small contribution to PhillyClassic was setting up my RCA Studio II was the
demo cart.  I owned (at the time) about half of the Studio II catalog, but
only brought the demonstration cart to the show.  I figured that few people
had seen the demo cart and the games are no fun to play anyway.

After talking with hardcore collectors at the show who don't have some of my
items, I felt pretty fortunate.  I was ecstatic after receiving a boxed cart
that I needed (see previous post).

.... fast forward to the drive home

I was passing the "Circle 40" indoor flea on the drive home.  I hadn't been
inside it for a few years, but I had a little time before my wife was
expecting me home.  The first item I spotted was a boxed Odyssey 300.  No
price on it, but it had a real funky smell.  Pass.

I spotted a Ms. PacMan upright.  This is the first arcade game I'd seen in a
flea or thrift store.  The price seemed right at $150 until I took a second
look--$1,500.  Guess I missed a zero.  I moved on.

I stopped to poke around in an open box with some portable phone stuff on
top.  I thought I recognized a familiar looking item about the size of a deck
of cards.  It was a Studio II cart.  I poked around some more and realized the
boxed was packed with Studio II carts (all boxed complete) and a console
plus.......the TV/power box.  Got the lot for $10.

But that's not the brag.  I suspected that this might give me a complete
Studio II collection.   When I got home I pulled out the DP guide and checked
them off:  Baseball...needed that; Biorhythem...needed that,
BlackJack...needed that, Gunfighter/Monship Battle...needed that, Space
War...needed that, Tennis/Squash...I just got this one this morning, TV
Schoolhouse...don't need that, Fun with Numbers...don't need that,
Bingo...don't see that one in the guide.  Then it slowly sinks in.  I FOUND A
TITLE NOT LISTED IN THE GUIDE!!!  WOHOO!  Sure its no proto, but a dream of
mine none the less.

Turns out that I still need Speedway/Tag and the diagnostic cart to complete
my collection.  Anyone have these for trade?

Dan

 Which, seeing as the copy that just turned up was in the possession of a former RCA employee and does not include a Demonstration cartridge, would indicate two separate confirmed copies, which each have a different naming scheme of TV Casino Series/TV Casino II.

 

Now, there's hints of more, possibly. The entry on the old Digital Press Rarity Guide indicates that Bingo has only been seen a few times among collectors. What it doesn't specify is if all of those sightings are from PC2K1, or not. Someone else could have seen or found a copy back in the day. That's how the Tester I/"Diagnostic" and Demonstration cartridges came to be on the earliest versions of the old collection checklists, lists that seem to have originated with Dean Dierschow and Andrew Krieg around '96. I messaged both and never got responses, somebody had to have had those titles for them to have gotten added to all of the lists, and it may be the same case with Bingo.

 

I've also heard from a fellow collector (not a prominent one, nor one active online) that actually remembers a Studio II (along with other systems) as a kid back in the day that his grandparents had, and some sort of Bingo game on the TV being played when he and his Dad visited. Apparently it got lost or thrown out or donated long ago, but his folks there lived in South Jersey, too. I've heard anecdotal evidence from other longtime collectors, too- but the memory may just be confusing them with the PC2K1 showing or thinking of old checklists.

 

Another possible Bingo is Tom Keiser's trashfind in a Philly suburb of what he indicated were a dozen Studio II games among other RCA material being thrown out. Now, only 10 are confirmed games, and one was a Demonstration cartridge, which leaves it a strong chance of the other being a copy of Bingo. Sadly he couldn't remember what the exact titles were, and they seem to have subsequently lost in Hurricane Sandy :(

 

The one thing that all of these copies and theoretical copies have in common is that they were all around Philly/South Jersey, that is, right around where RCA was and where RCA employees lived. None anywhere else, nor any indication that it was mass produced at the Swannanoa, NC plant along with the other games, nor any indication whatsoever it was ever sold at retail. Every single indication points to it having been a few sort of pre-production samples that some employees kept or got to test out.



#777 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:15 PM

 

If that's the case, then it would be interesting to see the internals of the Studio II machine itself. It might be an earlier iteration than the two versions we know exist to date! If this is ever re-listed, I am guessing it'll be with a heftier price tag - and we'll all be bidding against each other :twisted:

 

I was thinking that too, especially since we now know of late that there are multiple different board versions.

 

Is a bit strange tho that there are 2 copies of math fun and both box versions of Casino I...  I dont see why an employee would want both revisions.. of a different box. 

It might seem to indicate that whoever had it was interested in samples, and further give credence to Bingo being an unreleased sample product.



#778 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:19 PM

Just double-checked the Wikipedia listing for the Studio II and the mention of CFO Ray Easter and other RCA employees having early access to the unit and games has mysteriously vanished:

 

https://en.wikipedia...i/RCA_Studio_II

 

yet can still be seen on older page versions:

 

https://web.archive....i/RCA_Studio_II

 

... odd. Very odd that somebody would take the time to add that very specific information and name-drop of Ray Easter and description of the unit itself. Somebody had to have seen such a thing at some point, it would seem...



#779 flip OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:29 PM


Now, there's hints of more, possibly. The entry on the old Digital Press Rarity Guide indicates that Bingo has only been seen a few times among collectors. What it doesn't specify is if all of those sightings are from PC2K1, or not. Someone else could have seen or found a copy back in the day. That's how the Tester I/"Diagnostic" and Demonstration cartridges came to be on the earliest versions of the old collection checklists, lists that seem to have originated with Dean Dierschow and Andrew Krieg around '96. I messaged both and never got responses, somebody had to have had those titles for them to have gotten added to all of the lists, and it may be the same case with Bingo.

 

Sorry to move slightly away from the Bingo find, but does anyone know what the Tester/Diagnostic cart did exactly? I have written a test program for inclusion in the multicart that has three tests: calculate the checksum of the ROMs ($0000-$03FF), check the RAM from $0800-$08AF and $0900-$09FF and a keypad test that shows which keys are pressed. Works pretty well, but if other tests were included in the official one, it'd be cool to try and implement those as well...

 

Checksum: checksum test
Memory test: memtest
keypad test: keypad test


#780 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:58 PM

 

 

Sorry to move slightly away from the Bingo find, but does anyone know what the Tester/Diagnostic cart did exactly? I have written a test program for inclusion in the multicart that has three tests: calculate the checksum of the ROMs ($0000-$03FF), check the RAM from $0800-$08AF and $0900-$09FF and a keypad test that shows which keys are pressed. Works pretty well, but if other tests were included in the official one, it'd be cool to try and implement those as well...

 

Checksum:
Memory test:
keypad test:

 

 

There is an upload on this topic from some guide on how to repair (electronics) that went over what the diagnostics cart did with some 'screenshots'

 

The test apparently required a higher ampage adapator for whatever reason.


Edited by TLD1985, Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:04 PM.


#781 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:59 PM

Wikipedia supports versioning, so you should be able to backtrack in the history who added and who removed specific information.

 

Handle Paeaster added the information about Ray Easter (name/username coincidence?!) on September 24, 2012:

https://en.wikipedia...oldid=514282108

 

User Evan-Amos then removed the same bit of information on October 6, 2015: "removing speculation about the RCA studio prototype and name. no information claimed is available anywhere."

https://en.wikipedia...oldid=684443704

 

Thus that bit of info survived a little over three years on Wikipedia, without a trusty source. That is almost a world record, normally unsourced content doesn't last more than a few months.

 

The handle Paeaster has specialized in breweries in Nevada, South Carolina and New Jersey and a little bit more. One gotta wonder if that person is related to the CFO.



#782 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:01 PM

Also found this on this topic whilst trying to find the photo where there is a demo-cart in use.
testcart.png


So even if all copies of the cart have been lost... at least we know what it did.

 

 

From the RCA Studio II service manual:

rcatester1.png

Interesting to note is that the cart requires a Power Unit.

I'm sure I have seen a b/w photo with the "Demo" cart... in the background... outputting something different on the screen... it might even be on this post.

 

 

here they are again



#783 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:05 PM

Wikipedia supports versioning, so you should be able to backtrack in the history who added and who removed specific information.

 

Handle Paeaster added the information about Ray Easter (name/username coincidence?!) on September 24, 2012:

https://en.wikipedia...oldid=514282108

 

User Evan-Amos then removed the same bit of information on October 6, 2015: "removing speculation about the RCA studio prototype and name. no information claimed is available anywhere."

https://en.wikipedia...oldid=684443704

 

Thus that bit of info survived a little over three years on Wikipedia, without a trusty source. That is almost a world record, normally unsourced content doesn't last more than a few months.

 

The handle Paeaster has specialized in breweries in Nevada, South Carolina and New Jersey and a little bit more. One gotta wonder if that person is related to the CFO.

I know, I figured at some point there had to have been something backing up that assertion, or else why did it stay up for so long?

 

As for the handle, Paeaster could be PA (Pennsylvania) Easter- which, while unlikely to be Ray Easter himself, could be a relative or even child (the geographic area might be right if it's PA) who would be the source of that otherwise unknown information.



#784 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:40 PM

Could be both, especially if this is a separate copy from the PC2K1 version. TV Casino I and TV Casino Series on the Blackjack games are the only box variant for the Studio II whatsoever, and it might really be the same case with Bingo. At this point we really can't be sure.

 

So, now the truly hardcore collectors will have to acquire BOTH label variations in order to have a complete collection?   :-o  



#785 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:49 PM

 

So, now the truly hardcore collectors will have to acquire BOTH label variations in order to have a complete collection?   :-o  

Hahaha, yeah, Studio II just became the most difficult collection of them all to complete, variant collector or not, hahah :D


Edited by Blazing Lazers, Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:51 PM.


#786 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:55 PM

This really has to be some sort of record being set here, a known game not coming up for sale or even being photographed in over 15 years. Thank God this wasn't an actual retail release.



#787 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:49 PM

I really doubt there are 2 label variations for this.  It's most likely a case of memory filling in gaps of information that really wasn't HIGHLY important at that moment in time.



#788 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:02 PM

I really doubt there are 2 label variations for this.  It's most likely a case of memory filling in gaps of information that really wasn't HIGHLY important at that moment in time.


Well, checking the DP listing indicates TV Casino Series:

http://www.digitpres...nfo&gameid=9028

#789 lazzeri OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:00 PM

At long last, Bingo just turned up!!! The same damn copy from PC2K1, odds are:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...cvip=true&rt=nc

 

 

  

   Yeah, stumbled upon that auction yesterday and had an instant headache. :-D

   Saw the auction closed today, hope seller will relist. I´m willing to bid up to SEVENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!! :P

 

   Hope some decent fellow grabs it so we can have it properly preserved and (hopefully) duplicated. Really interesting find.


Edited by lazzeri, Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:19 PM.


#790 lazzeri OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:06 PM

Seller also teased me with a bit of info: apparently the daughters of the RCA employee who had this (it doesn't seem to be Dan's copy from 2K1) had the system in their house a year BEFORE retail release, which actually does sync with the otherwise bizarre Wikipedia article claim of select executives having it way early.

 

If that's so, it would also sync with the hints that Bingo only got as far as a few samples, and really never was sold at retail!

 

   If it was indeed in private testing for over a year prior to release it makes RCA Studio II the first videogame with programmable carts, beating Channel F. That is a very, very interesting piece on information.



#791 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:10 PM

I really doubt there are 2 label variations for this.  It's most likely a case of memory filling in gaps of information that really wasn't HIGHLY important at that moment in time.

 

Yeah I agree.  I'm almost sure that it was my fuzzy memory.



#792 ianoid OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:34 PM

http://www.ebay.com/...wYAAOSw-kdXxieT

 

 

 

When side deals go bad. This is why you don't come at a buyer with a giant side deal offer. They soon believe they have the most valuable thing in the universe and you can't pry it out of their hands. 



#793 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:49 PM

"The game is worth as much as someone is willing to pay and I have no idea what that number may be as this game has NEVER sold at auction or maybe anywhere. "

 

that line amuses me... has no idea how much its worth so starts it at 3500 USD.



#794 lazzeri OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:08 PM

"Please Google RCA Studio Gold Mine".

Smile for the camera!

#795 slydc OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:44 PM

LOL!!!!!

 

I'm laughing like a stupid hiena who's brain is about to explode, which i completely agree with ianoid...never

make an hell of an offer to a seller (or a ridiculous one like $1) as he wrote this on the auction:

 

"... has been referred to as the Holy Grail, an Urban Legend, a Myth and in fact has even been questioned as to its existence at all, some claiming, it was only a rumour that it existed."

 

Well the cat is out of the bag so who's ready to send $3,500.00 on a game that was released in Europe, which if you

look at one of the pictures, you see two drawn screenshots of the game and it looks so much like the European release.

 

At least we have very good pictures of the complete game (well only missing one side of the manual) as i'll

contemplate those pics. Hey it took 15 years to have those, so enjoy! ;-)



#796 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:47 PM

http://www.ebay.com/...wYAAOSw-kdXxieT
 
 
 
When side deals go bad. This is why you don't come at a buyer with a giant side deal offer. They soon believe they have the most valuable thing in the universe and you can't pry it out of their hands.


Schoolgirl set that in motion, and would have gotten it otherwise. My initial offer was only a few hundred, but she who shall not be named had already gone 4 figures by that point. At least she's been stopped for now, and we have good images of this.

#797 KylJoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:00 PM

http://www.ebay.com/...wYAAOSw-kdXxieT

 

 

 

When side deals go bad. This is why you don't come at a buyer with a giant side deal offer. They soon believe they have the most valuable thing in the universe and you can't pry it out of their hands. 

 

Yeah, I was just going to bid.  But now we are all SOL.



#798 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:30 AM

Crowd funding? Someone with the capacity to dump and perhaps even make replicas later on could be the receiver, and those who chipped in get a discount on the latter.

 

As for the Channel F, I remember that article last year which described that project starting off on an Intel 8008 and possibly moved to an 8080 before signed by Fairchild and adopted for the F8. Quite possibly they also had early, cartridge based prototypes so both systems would still be in the run for who was first. Having something to sell to customers surely is a stronger "first" than having an early prototype that takes a long while to finish up.


Edited by carlsson, Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:32 AM.


#799 TLD1985 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:26 AM

Have noticed that with the exception of the diagram in the manual  the words "Studio II" don't seem to be mentioned anywhere on the box/cards/cartridge/etc



#800 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:13 AM

Have noticed that with the exception of the diagram in the manual  the words "Studio II" don't seem to be mentioned anywhere on the box/cards/cartridge/etc

... oh my, you're right, and I hadn't even noticed that! Only the earlier "Home TV Programmer" name is mentioned. Another indicator that this is some sort of pre-production/early sample that never got mass produced.






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