Jump to content

Photo

Interton VC 4000


48 replies to this topic

#1 xDragonWarrior OFFLINE  

xDragonWarrior

    Dragonstomper

  • 639 posts

Posted Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:22 PM

Very few people have played much less heard of the Interton VC 4000 and that's a real shame as it was the FIRST consoles(that's right,before the Vectrex and 5200) to have an analog stick.Interton%20VC%204000%20www.JPGThere were 40 games released for it and they can be found very cheap on German Ebay in a lot with a few boxed games but sadly they do not ship to the USsonic-hedgehog-yesemoticons-007.gif.Anyway,has anyone here on AA had the chance to play on or own this groundbreaking console??? I'll be hear waiting sonic-hedgehog-yesemoticons-005.gif



#2 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:34 PM

I bought a boxed VC-4000 about a year ago, not planned at all but the price seemed right. Since then I have got three games: Black Jack, Invaders and Outer Space Combat. I didn't try the rest of the library, but I believe the latter two are among the better ones. Honestly I had not noticed the sticks are analog, perhaps I've not been playing the right games.

 

Not sure how groundbreaking it was though, as it belongs to the 1292 group and technically seems a bit inferior to its contemporaries. The sibling Emerson Arcadia 2001 seems a bit better, but I don't know if that one has analog sticks of course... ;-)



#3 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Fri May 2, 2014 9:29 AM

More infos I gathered over time. Those are informations I got "second-hand" so there might be wrong or "not totally right" things in there; but unlike in the USA and Japan, the companies involved here are little-to-unknow ones, except Philips, but Philips is very secretive and never communicate much :

 

The Interton VC 4000 is originally a rebranded and reshaped Radofin 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System, released in 1976 (making it the second, if not the first, CPU and interchangeable ROM based console).

 

The machine is powered by a CPU and a GPU, both made by Signetics, an American chip maker bough by Philips in 1975. The APVS/VC4000 seems to be conceived by Philips to promote their Signetics chips, and was probably sold to various little electronics companies.

Claims are that Interton conceived the VC4000 before the APVS, but the release date is still 1978.

Those claims might be "right" if Interton borrowed the rights to the "Signetics video system" before Radofin?

 

Various threads on Internet show different specs for the APVS and the VC4000, but it's probably a confusion between the CPU speed and RAM and the GPU speed and RAM.

 

The specs seems to be as is :

CPU : Signetics 2650AI : 0,887 Mhtz

GPU : Signetics 2636 : 3.58 Mhtz

CPU RAM : odd numbers, but as low as 87, 65 or 32 octets

GPU RAM : 32ko

 

The GPU is able to offer a display of 218*200 pixels, with 8 colors, and monochrome sprite(s?).

It's also in charge of the sound. It seems more able than your regular beeper, but not on par with the Atari 2600 or Videopac. (or, maybe it is but never shows, at the sound is exactly the same on the Arcadia 2001, and it sounds much better, tho still weak compared to other systems).

 

The input consist of 3 keys : Reset, Select and Start.

Plus two joysticks; they have an analog joystick (free on the APVS family, auto-centered on the VC4000 family) 2 action/fire buttons (which seems to be one button, so they might be internall wired together) and a 12 buttons keypad-like keyboard.

 

About 50 games have been programmed for the various systems release. Although Interton (or Interton fans?) claim that the Interton VC4000 is superior to the APVS, back in 1980, cart adapters were sold to play APVS carts on Interton VC4000 and vice-versa; furthermore, dump of games showed no difference between most games, the main difference being for some in-gam words changed to English to German, and the mention "Interton VC 4000" added in few games.

Also, Interton claimed all games to have been programmed in Germany, but looking at the code in the game "Shoot out" bring up this text :

"CHOI ANDREW, HONG KONG, MARCH 31 1981. PROGRAMS BY THE SAME AUTHOR: INVADER, BREAKOUT"

 

The system was sold from 1976 to 1984; tho there isn't any definitive date, as those date covers all licenced clones; I have seen the Interton VC4000 in a French video game magazine dated from December 1982; and I own a ITMC MPT-05 clone with a receipt from 1984 inside (tho it might just be some old stock; but the IMTC MPT series of clones seems all to started to sell in 1983).

 

From what I have found, there are 50 different games released for the system, tho some are available only on one family.

The families are :

- 1292/1392 APVS (6 uniques games + Hobby Module)

- Interton VC4000 (a great winner with 10 unique games plus the biggest list of games overall)

- ITMC MPT05 (not enough data)

- Voltmace (5 unique games)

- Rowtron (2 unique games)

- there might be another family two French systems (Karvan Computer and Occitel OC-2000) but there is nothing but pictures to be found about them.

 

There is also the Hobby Module add-on (for the APVS only), that added the possibility to program games in Signetics BASIC? and more importantly, to record and load programs from a cassette tape.

 

http://tv-games.ru/w..._Module_big.jpg

 

Specs are even harder to find than for the main system, but this cart seems to add some RAM (tho, it might just be dedicaced to the tape data and not available for the program itself) and some mention an AY 3-8910 sound chip (a classic sound arcade chip found in so many computers of the 80's and into some consoles like the Vectrex)

 

One notable feature of the console, aside from the analog joystick, is how to boot any game.

 

When powering the system, the screen will display raodom stuff; Reset mush be pressed to get a normal screen.

 

This is due to the weak amount of CPU RAM. Why so few RAM? Back in 1976, only some types of RAM could be adressed directly by the CPU;this RAM was obviously more expensive than other RAM; (it's one reason why the Fairchild channel F got only 64 octets and the 2600 128 octets).

To get more RAM, one workaround (that got used also in the Colecovision) is to use few RAM to boot up the system, and load one instruction for the CPU to look in the GPU RAM to load data. The GPU RAM being obviously cheaper, allowing to get more of it.

 

Tho, probably from bad programming, later games carts not only have more ROM, but also up to 256 octets of RAM.

 

 

Most games are pretty typical of the era; Videopac/Odyssey² offer about the same kind of games, with a likely evolution from "basic" games to licenced-like games later in the life of the system, with clones of arcade such as Invaders.



#4 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Fri May 2, 2014 10:51 AM

On a personnal note, I own one boxed Interton VC 4000, one Grundig Super Computer 4000, modded for RGB out (the Grundig model was part of a line of high end electronics, and was featureing one unique, pre-SCART plug that also powered the unit), and one Radofin 1292 AVPS unit from England.

As for games, I own about 13 Interton games and 3 AVPS games.

 

I gotta say, the football (soccer) game is the greatest of all.

Give me ANY football game that ever allowed your to control ALL OF THE 11 PLAYERS AT THE SAME TIME!

Yest that's right, by pressing one of the 12 buttons pads, you move one player (on a line) and you can push all the 12 buttons to move them all at the same time, which, once you get used to it, give for some excellent fun with another player (this game being two players only form what I recall...)

 

Soccer_-_1978_-_Interton.jpg



#5 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Sat May 3, 2014 3:42 PM

Pictures!
 
First, the Radofin Advanced Programmable Video System :
gallery_35492_963_21818.jpg
 
Crappy box, but heh.

 

gallery_35492_963_242930.jpg
 
Overvall, it's better designed than most system of the time. The look is sleek, looks modern (no silly faux wood or no grainy black plastic); it could have been designed more in the mid 80's. There is a dust cover in two parts; the buttons are very responsive, either on the system or the pads. The joysticks move smoothly; they are not auto-centering. This might bring bad memories to Atari 5200 users, but precision is less critical here and you'll get used to it fast.
The only bad choices of design here are certainly the hardwired phone-like cords for the pads, and the two-power PSU (but, not totally uncommon for the time, and it's at least NOT hardwired).
 
The carts are boring slabs of plastic, but they have a title and a end label, so nothing extraordinary, but nothing bad either.
 

Overlays were supposed to exist to put on the pads, but I haven't found any so far.

 

Now onto the Interton VC 4000 :

 

gallery_35492_963_2194513.jpg

 

Now if there is one amazing thing about the VC4000, it's the quality of their boxes, and the style and quality of the box art. It's absolutely amazing.

 

gallery_35492_963_904620.jpg

 

 

gallery_35492_963_2528166.jpg

 

The VC 4000 is way bigger than the APVS, for no reason other than design. Less refined and more sturdy looking. The panel buttons are less good (tho as they are no action button, it's not that important) but they work. The arrows aren't very clear to understand but you'll figure quickly that << is reset and > is Select.

 

The joystick are auto centered. It can come to be a problem in a game like bowling which have been programmed with non-centered joystick in mind.

They works very well anyway, and have a feeling of quality. The action buttons doesn't feel as good as on the APVS, because of their size and shape.

 

gallery_35492_963_157076.jpg

 

The boxes are sturdy, well made, laminated, and the box art is amazing. The boxes open like Intellivision boxes to hold the carts.

The carts then are clearly designed to be kept in the boxes : no title on them (except for some like Hyperspace) no end label, only a drawing, the console name and the box/game number.

The carts are sturdy and fit well in the system, so that's a good point to them.

 

gallery_35492_963_1839052.jpg

DAT ARTWORKS

 

Another in my collection, the ITMC MPT-05

 

 

ITMC was a French electronic toy brand, which was only rebranding other products. They started by released Epoch handheld games, and Soundic Pong machines; they stepped into the console market in the 80's with the MPT series, also released by Hanimex in many other countries.

The MPT series were old systems, marketed as low-budget children video game systems.

The MPT-02 was a RCA Studio II clone with color display, the MPT-03 was made of Arcadia 2001 clones, and the MPT-05 was of course an APVS system clone.

 

gallery_35492_963_3051593.jpg

 

As you can see, the box design is made to be clear and informative : a basic description, and pictures of the games. And of course, the other side is the same. Cheap and efficient design.

 

gallery_35492_963_809106.jpg

 

The system itseld is designed for kids : bright, rounded, big, and sturdy. It's way bigger than the others, and the pads are very sturdy.

The big downside are the cord like hardwired joypads, even shorter than on the APVS, and the sound coming from the unit, with only a mute button, no volume knob.

 

gallery_35492_963_32127.jpg

 

 

The carts are bland, much like the boxes :

 

gallery_35492_963_1977717.jpg

 

 

And, last but not least, the Grundig Super Play Computer 4000 :

 

gallery_35492_963_1282199.jpg

 

So okay, it's an Interton VC 400 in a much shinier look. But, there is that fat cart-like thing... It was originally a connector to a brand of Grunding TV. There was one wire only, feeding the TV with video, and feeding the system with power.

 

After a quick'n'dirty modding :

 

gallery_35492_963_1378586.jpg

 

You got a RGB output, and a classical 12V DC power. pretty handy for overseas collectors, which would not have to fiddle with PAL RF video and the odd 15 V and 7,5V AC original power supply.



#6 Marc Oberhäuser OFFLINE  

Marc Oberhäuser

    Stargunner

  • 1,622 posts
  • Location:Düren, Germany

Posted Fri May 16, 2014 3:53 AM

Here's my VC4000 collection (well, most of it)  :)

Attached Thumbnails

  • vc4000_b1.jpg
  • vc4000_b2.jpg
  • vc4000_b3.jpg
  • vc4000_b4.jpg
  • vc4000_b5.jpg
  • vc4000_l1.jpg
  • vc4000_l2.jpg
  • vc4000_l3.jpg
  • vc4000_l4.jpg
  • vc4000_l5.jpg
  • vc4000_l6.jpg
  • vc4000_l7.jpg
  • vc4000_l8.jpg
  • vc4000_l9.jpg
  • vc4000_s1.jpg
  • vc4000_s2.jpg


#7 Darren OFFLINE  

Darren

    Combat Commando

  • 4 posts

Posted Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:07 AM

I used to play on this machine and thought it was great for the time (circa 1982).  The football game had offside so if you moved all your players when the other player had their ball it was easy to catch them out.  I also remember the golf game which was pretty good for the time.



#8 high voltage ONLINE  

high voltage

    Quadrunner

  • 6,248 posts
  • Location:europe

Posted Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:21 AM

Here's some info from the German book Spielkonsolen und Heimcomputer

 

IMG_zpsdc09bc67.jpg

 

IMG_0001_zps006472ac.jpg

It's also available in English:

 

https://www.gameplan.de/GameMachines/


Edited by high voltage, Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:32 AM.


#9 Shinju OFFLINE  

Shinju

    Moonsweeper

  • 328 posts
  • Location:USA, Washington State, Seattle

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:33 PM

I just picked up a huge loose lot of Interton carts, no system but I am looking!

 

LEWT_zps08ac11c6.jpg
 



#10 BadHornet OFFLINE  

BadHornet

    Dragonstomper

  • 830 posts
  • Location:Smack dab in the middle of Texas

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:01 PM

Very cool, and not something you see. Thank you for taking the time to show pics!



#11 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:52 PM

I just picked up a huge loose lot of Interton carts, no system but I am looking!

 

LEWT_zps08ac11c6.jpg
 

Little tip for searching (I guess you use eBay?) use ebay.de; sellers that didn't specified international shipping doesn't show on worldwide searches.

 

A loose, working system should sell for around 40/50$.

Remember, both the Interton and Radofin uses a specific, two-current PSU that will be hard to replace. The Grundig Super Play Computer version is harder to find, but you can mod it for using 12V DC. However, it output RGBi only, not composite.



#12 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:17 PM

Has there ever existed a version of the Interton VC-4000 or any other 1292/1392 APS console shaped like a Colecovision or a VCR, i.e. a flat, square black box rather than slanted with cutouts for the controllers?

 

I found a Swedish TV program from April 1979 where they visit Philips (!) research centre in Eindhoven, NL and talk about the future of video games. Throughout the video, one can see at least one or two VC-4000 consoles plus a number of games which clearly are for that system. However to the far left of the table, there is a such flat, square box that I can't identify.

 

interton-ish.jpg

 

Here is the full video, but I don't know if you will be able to view it due to broadcasting rights in various countries. The video game section starts after 29:25 so you would have to spool forward quite a bit to reach there.

 

http://www.svtplay.s...sin-shanghai-mm

 

In any case, it's rather interesting that Swedish TV showcased the possibilities in videogames with the VC-4000. For a moment I imagined that Philips might've used the research centre to spy on its competitors: US launch of Odyssey^2 in July 1978, European launch of G7000 in December 1978 and this program was broadcasted in April 1979 but that theory is hampered by two facts: why didn't Philips bring out a table of G7000 consoles for foreign TV to make a feature about, and where did they hide any Atari VCS consoles if they had been spying on the competition? The other systems available in 1978/79 (Bally Astrocade, APF MP-1000, Fairchild Channel F etc) would either have been outdated or insignificant for that purpose.



#13 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:38 PM

I can't see the video but this may have been a prototype of the Arcadia 2001.
Or a prototype of the Odyssey3? I don't know if the O3 was developed in the USA or Europe...

It's unlikely that Philips spied on their competitors. According to developers from the Videopac and the CD-i era, it was simply not their mindset (and you can tell from how they managed to sell and program games for both systems, especially the O3/Videopac+).

Edited by CatPix, Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:43 PM.


#14 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:06 PM

Well, would an Odyssey^2 or Odyssey^3 prototype play 1292 games?! I can see where you come from about the Arcadia 2001 prototype, but in a part of the video you can't see, the box somehow seems connected to a VC-4000 so I think this may have been some cartridge switching unit, a mass storage device if you like, somehow (underside, backside?) connected to a regular VC-4000. In another section of the same video, they plug in a rather huge "computer expansion" board into the poor VC-4000 and converts it to a music computer.

interton-ish2.jpg



#15 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

The Usotsuki

    Stargunner

  • 1,869 posts
  • Also called "Licca"

Posted Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:35 PM

"Efcee Compaªtible" ? (I'm guessing it's a Japanese-marketed famiclone)



#16 CatPix OFFLINE  

CatPix

    River Patroller

  • 3,457 posts
  • Location:France

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:07 AM

Well, would an Odyssey^2 or Odyssey^3 prototype play 1292 games?! I can see where you come from about the Arcadia 2001 prototype, but in a part of the video you can't see, the box somehow seems connected to a VC-4000 so I think this may have been some cartridge switching unit, a mass storage device if you like, somehow (underside, backside?) connected to a regular VC-4000. In another section of the same video, they plug in a rather huge "computer expansion" board into the poor VC-4000 and converts it to a music computer.

attachicon.gifinterton-ish2.jpg

There is one "Hobby module" computer cart for the Radofin families.

hobbym1.jpg

 

I can't see why they would develop a cart switching unit 2 years after the initial system release... Tho it might be a development kit, or a testing unit.

It's likely, seeing how different the unit are, not even using the same connector, that Philips had their own APVS in-house system for developing games and accessories.

It may be then the only remaining picture of it. I heard Philips is not keen on keeping track of their past when it come to prototypes; and the video game part was a "side project", far away from their big products.



#17 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:32 AM

It strikes me that Grundig was a Philips partially owned company between 1972 and 1993, then Philips sold it in 1998. Thus they may actually have developed some hardware or software in Eindhoven meant for the Grundig SuperPlay 4000, simultaneously as they worked with the "own" Videopac G7000? Or at least that at the time of the video, they were planning to release the Grundig model, whether or not it was on the market in 1979. Still it would have made more sense to me to showcase a G7000 if they were able to.



#18 Phredreeke OFFLINE  

Phredreeke

    Chopper Commander

  • 198 posts

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:34 AM

Does anyone have a certain answer on how much RAM the system has? I've heard 43 bytes but that makes no sense.

The other systems available in 1978/79 (Bally Astrocade, APF MP-1000, Fairchild Channel F etc) would either have been outdated or insignificant for that purpose.


Also Astrocade never had a PAL version, and I don't think APF MP-1000 had one either. (though I would say Astrocade is technically superior to both the Odyssey2/Videopac and the Signetics 2636-based systems)

#19 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:43 AM

43 seems correct:

http://weltenschule....es/Inte4000.txt

 

Actually the console does seem to have zero CPU RAM, and those 43 bytes are part of the PVI interface between the 2650 and the 2636 video & sound controller. Some sources claim only 37 bytes, perhaps it depends on the program how the memory in the interface is used. Of course if you consider the sprite locations, vertical bar bitmaps, score control etc also to be part of the RAM, the total number will be higher, up to 208 bytes it seems but most of those would have fixed uses and cause severe side effects if used otherwise.

 

Then there are the seven 8-bit general purpose registers which of course fill purposes already but might have double uses in certain situations.

 

More technical docs here: http://amigan.yatho.com/



#20 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:53 AM

I'm not so sure that the 2636 internally has 32 kB or even 4 kB to work with though, it is not mentioned at all in the otherwise detailed document above and it might just draw things on screen on the fly without having a memory what was drawn. However as I don't know the technology, I won't dismiss the information entirely.



#21 Eckhard Stolberg OFFLINE  

Eckhard Stolberg

    Dragonstomper

  • 957 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:06 AM

I found a Swedish TV program from April 1979 where they visit Philips (!) research centre in Eindhoven, NL and talk about the future of video games. Throughout the video, one can see at least one or two VC-4000 consoles plus a number of games which clearly are for that system. However to the far left of the table, there is a such flat, square box that I can't identify.

 

That's a music cassette player.  ;)

 

Signetics, the company that made the 2650 and 2536 chips was owned by Philips at the time. Elektor magazine published a series af articles in 1979 (that later tured into a book) about a DIY computer based on the Signetics chips. In the book Philips is credited with helping with the hardware design and the monitor software. The computer basically consist of the signetics chips, a tape player interface, 2K RAM and a monitor ROM, that allowed you to type in HEX numpurs with the keypad and access the tape player.

 

In the video there is a large cartridge plugged into the Interton VC4000. That probably is a variation of the Elektor computer. So the box that the cartridge is connected to most probably is a tape player from where the demonstrated programs were loaded into the cartridge RAM.

 

 

Does anyone have a certain answer on how much RAM the system has? I've heard 43 bytes but that makes no sense.

 

It's only 37 bytes. The 2536 has all the RAM in the system. It contains 32 bytes for general purpose use and some memory for defining the sprites and the background graphics. Since tehre are 2+2+1 bytes of RAM unused in the sprite / background area, that makes a total 37 bytes of RAM that a programmer could use for the games data.



#22 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:19 AM

Aha, I never picked up that Philips owned Signetics. I also imagined it to be a tape player at first, but they seem to fiddle at the back of that box to switch game, and unless there were some nice cuts in the final video, it loads very fast from tape. I don't know how large the games are, but even 2 kB of program data @ 1200 baud which would be reasonable for 1979 would mean it takes 14 seconds to load a program. Possibly the music demo loads data from the tape recorder though.



#23 Eckhard Stolberg OFFLINE  

Eckhard Stolberg

    Dragonstomper

  • 957 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:34 PM

I don't think they are messing with the back of the tape player to switch games. It just looks that way, because the tape player and the console are standing very close together, and the host of the show is holding his arm over the tape player while he is actually swapping game cartridges on the console, when they go from the plane game to the horse game and then to the boxing game.

 

Also I think the video is cut. You can see how the monitor loading screen comes up when the RAM cartridge is inserted in to the console. Then the engineer starts the loading process on the console and as he proceeds to press the play button on the tape player they cut to the start screen of the music program. So it seems that they cut out the actual loading process from the video.



#24 gamecat80 OFFLINE  

gamecat80

    Moonsweeper

  • 250 posts
  • Location:Gbo, NC

Posted Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:15 AM

Also Astrocade never had a PAL version, and I don't think APF MP-1000 had one either. (though I would say Astrocade is technically superior to both the Odyssey2/Videopac and the Signetics 2636-based systems)

 

Definitely.  I think carlsson placed the Astrocade in the "insignificant" category because it was only sold in computer stores or thru mail-order, so it was not a big seller.  The Astrocade was more powerful/advanced than any pre-Intellivision home console.



#25 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    River Patroller

  • 4,890 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:27 PM

Indeed, although of course if some manufacturer wanted to be certain their system would be technically superior to anything else on the market, they'd have to evaluate every system, even those selling in low volumes with relatively few games available, and put that in relation to selling price and which segment the new manufacturer would like to enter.

 

Anyway, with the strong relations between Signetics and Philips, plus the relation between Grundig and Philips, plus the fact that all systems in the video may actually be VC-4000 after all, plus extra hardware, puts my theory to shame of it being a few different systems used for evaluation and comparison to the Odyssey^2 / Videopac G7000.






0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users