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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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#1151 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:34 PM

Update: I've gotten the wav files from the archivist - apparently he had them already from the initial digitization attempt and had attached the wrong files. They're both too large to attach on atariage, but I've provided them to Ekeefe for the moment.



#1152 ekeefe OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:56 PM

Hello,

 

I downloaded the new files. I will have a look.

 

ED



#1153 paulrobson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:34 AM

There's a lot of machines this could be. There is a sequence of them starting with System00 (TTL CPU) various FREDs (1801 CPU) Cosmac ELF/VIP (1802 CPU). The 1801 is a 1802 without the long branch/skip, most of the shift rotates and load without advance.

 

There are also different version of Chip-8 - at least three, the one that is well known that is part of the VIP, The Studio 2 version and the Fred version which is called FEL-1.  Joyce W seems to have been programming all of them. They are all different ; though FEL-1 is much closer to Chip 8 graphically.

 

FRED 2 (the naming is a bit vague as to what is what) was produced in small numbers (about 20) to demonstrate to potential buyers. To confuse matters furthers, the FRED papers I acquired from Hagley also have a design for a Cosmac Coin-Operated machine (1801 based) which appears to have been constructed at some point but got no further.

 

It is interesting how different things could have been if different management decisions had been made in respect of the 180x stuff. This stuff predates Space Invaders.



#1154 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:41 PM

Any good way to determine which hardware the file was made for/materials to look for at the Hagley that could help narrow it down? With 30-odd tapes, I imagine there are programs in there for all those flavors of hardware, and it would be great to be able to narrow it down for each.



#1155 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:31 PM

So, cluelessness, money laundering, trolling, or just trting views for his other listings? :

https://m.ebay.com/i...c4220%7Ciid%3A1

#1156 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:58 PM

I set up a dropbox folder with the wav files. 01 is the side labeled Tag-Bowling, 02 is Swords. https://www.dropbox....ZZJtkxS_Sa?dl=0



#1157 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:02 AM

Well, now we all know that REAL designation for Gunfighter/Moonship Battle is TV Arcade V and Speedway/Tag is TV Arcade VI! Maybe somebody could make a slighter larger than normal outer box repro with slightly changed sticker art reflecting the real designations that can slide over actual copies?

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#1158 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:07 AM

Anyone ever heard of "Video Mate" before? Whatever this mysterious system was, it sure looks familiar...

 

 

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  • FRED MODEL 3 AKA VIDEOMATE.jpg


#1159 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:18 AM

Now, we knew that there was at least one arcade machine that RCA tested out in at least one shopping mall in NJ, but it is neat to see that there were multiple ones, some mysterious images with different cabinets, and two of which were a Mines game and another an arcade version of Swords (also called Fredotronic- anybody ever seen this before?). Here's a few photos, including one apparently taken on location at whatever actual arcade they were tested at!

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  • SWORDS ARCADE MACHINE.jpg
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#1160 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:28 AM

Contemporary (1977) photo screenshots of Studio III (!) games in all their full color glory! And, since we all know that the Studio III tech did find its way into the various Clone systems, this is what they would have actually looked like to somebody playing them back in the day. Also serves as yet more proof of the US origins of the clone games and hardware.

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#1161 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:30 AM

It also occurs to me just now that those above images would be useful to those maintain the various emulators as far as proper color appearance would go- we might be able to make the emulators slightly more accurate in terms of correct color display.



#1162 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:32 AM

Anyone else ever seen this alternative System Manual cover?

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  • ALTERNATE AND REGULAR MANUALS.jpg


#1163 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:46 AM

It also occurs to me just now that those above images would be useful to those maintain the various emulators as far as proper color appearance would go- we might be able to make the emulators slightly more accurate in terms of correct color display.

 

I would be concerned that the photo may have faded and/or the colour shifted in the past 40+ years, and so it is no longer a completely true representation of the original screen colours. For example, I have seen colour film (slides/transparencies) from Expo 1967 that looks like it was shot through a red filter. 

 

Now, we knew that there was at least one arcade machine that RCA tested out in at least one shopping mall in NJ, but it is neat to see that there were multiple ones, some mysterious images with different cabinets, and two of which were a Mines game and another an arcade version of Swords (also called Fredotronic- anybody ever seen this before?). Here's a few photos, including one apparently taken on location at whatever actual arcade they were tested at!

 

Does the tall, white system in the middle remind anyone else of a more-angular/square Computer Space console?

 

Thanks for posting these photos! All sorts of wonderful stuff is hidden in various archives, awaiting discovery. 



#1164 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:52 AM

As for accurate emulation, isn't taking actual screenshots from the working clone models enough to set the palette correctly, or do you believe more in a 40+ year old photo than in brand new screenshots from aged hardware?

 

Edit: Or that the Studio III would've had a somewhat different palette than the PAL clones display?


Edited by carlsson, Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:52 AM.


#1165 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:54 AM

Internal sales reports, especially from the time, aren't too common to come by. This one in particular has a few interesting stats:

 

  1. Out of at least 177,000plus Studio II units known to have been manufactured (going by known Serial Numbers) only around 53,000-64,000 were sold from February of 1977 to January of 1978.
  2. For those systems that were sold, the attach rate for game sales was apparently .77, or less than 1 game cartridge sold per system.
  3. Of all the Cartridge sales, 65% were from the TV Arcade Series, 18% were copies of Blackjack, 16% Schoolhouse I and II, and 1% were copies of Biorhythm. This last bit ought to be the final bit of proof, on top of all the other evidence, that Bingo was NEVER even sold, as they don't even mention it, only Blackjack, as there was no other released game in the TV Casino Series.

 

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  • page 1.jpg


#1166 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:55 AM

As for accurate emulation, isn't taking actual screenshots from the working clone models enough to set the palette correctly, or do you believe more in a 40+ year old photo than in brand new screenshots from aged hardware?

Depends on whether or not the palette was changed at all from when these were taken to when the clone systems were produced. Aren't most of the clone systems PAL? That would probably necessitate some kind of internal tweaks to accommodate.

 

For what it's worth, I think it's reasonable to include this palette as an option in emulators as "in-development Studio III" if for no other reason than it looks way less garish than what's on the emulators now.



#1167 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:57 AM

Did the Studio II sales pretty much end after January 1978, so it is not possible that Bingo had a very limited release later the same year?



#1168 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:59 AM

It should be noted that the colours on the Biorhythm box much better correspond to the on-screen colours when I run it on my Conic M1200 than how they correspond to the above photo.



#1169 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:03 PM

Based on that sales doc, could we suggest  Feb. 15 as the "official" launch date of the Studio II?



#1170 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:12 PM

RCA Studio IV (yes, IV- they got that far!) Document number 1:

 

 

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#1171 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:16 PM

Did the Studio II sales pretty much end after January 1978, so it is not possible that Bingo had a very limited release later the same year?

It's absolutely not possible that it had even a limited release. There'll be more posted further down, but suffice it to say it was only planned to be among the games for the Studio III, all of which would also have been backwards compatible with the Studio II. At long last Bingo can absolutely be ruled out as a Studio II game- the two (ever) known copies are simply mock-up samples. But stay tuned...



#1172 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:18 PM

RCA Studio IV (!) Document # 2- they're even talking about an RCA Studio V in it!

 

 

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  • PAGE1.jpg
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#1173 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:26 PM

Who cares about Studio IV when there even is a Studio V on the horizon? That is rather spectacular, if RCA had three sequels in development to the existing Studio II. Or perhaps that is standard in the business, to have very many lines of hardware in development and time will tell which one to release?

 

It doesn't say much about the graphics specs, except for the 16x16 colour map whatever it means. Four way joysticks had been an improvement over the keypads but why not go for eight way right away, as Atari and Fairchild already had released theirs at the time.



#1174 Blazing Lazers OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:53 PM

Final upload: apparently, somebody back in the day was thoughtful enough to type up all of the manuals for the Studio II AND Studio III games into one handy reference document. We all know the Studio III games were never released here in the US, but DID see releases for the overseas clones. How all that happened remains mysterious, but this should be the final proof that they all did originate here in the US, and were originally Studio III programs. It would also serve to indicate that at least manuals and cartridge mock ups existed at one point (look at the Bingo sample pics) for US versions- hopefully, these still exist somewhere. Given the timeframe of the documents, this would also be the first ever Star Wars videogame ever made. Amazing to realize that they actually intended to release these by those exact names here in the US!

 

 

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  • cover.jpg
  • index1.jpg
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  • page1blackjackcolor.jpg
  • page1mathfuncolor.jpg
  • page2Biorhythmcolor.jpg
  • page3PinballcolorS3.jpg
  • page4BingocolorS3.jpg
  • page5ConcentrationMatchcolorS3.jpg
  • page6StarWarscolorS3.jpg


#1175 Hwlngmad OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:01 PM

In some ways, it is shame that the Studio II did not come with color right out of the gate.  While it probably wouldn't have made a difference in the long run (it was so behind 2600 and Channel F it wasn't even funny), it would have given the console a better chance in life.  However, as it is, it remains a brief footnote in gaming history now.

Contemporary (1977) photo screenshots of Studio III (!) games in all their full color glory! And, since we all know that the Studio III tech did find its way into the various Clone systems, this is what they would have actually looked like to somebody playing them back in the day. Also serves as yet more proof of the US origins of the clone games and hardware.






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