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

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Nice. Aren't the games Climber, Rocket, Outbreak and TV Arcade 2012 by Lee Romanow? Andy might want to add that info to the otherwise very comprehensive page.

 

Actually Rocket was a Joseph Weisbecker game for the Elf (?) that Lee converted to the Studio 2.

http://archive.li/CD9JH

Edited by carlsson

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Nice.

Wonder if hes planning to add the Visicom games and make it a complete Studio II Emulator.

Edited by sut

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So Bingo and Biorhythm are both originally Studio III games that were released on the Studio II? Interesting. Was Biorhythm one of the last Studio II games released then since Bingo never actually made it out the door?

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So Bingo and Biorhythm are both originally Studio III games that were released on the Studio II? Interesting. Was Biorhythm one of the last Studio II games released then since Bingo never actually made it out the door?

I think it's more accurate to say they're both SII compatible games, of which one came out commercially on Studio II. As far as I can see from this thread it may not have been the last game to hit the market, but it was put out pretty late.

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So Bingo and Biorhythm are both originally Studio III games that were released on the Studio II? Interesting. Was Biorhythm one of the last Studio II games released then since Bingo never actually made it out the door?

 

The more accurate term would be ''color" games going by the grouping of them in the Manuals compilation posted a bit back (as was Schoolhouse II: Math Fun), but yeah, Studio II backwards and forward compatibility was intended. Biorhythm seems to have been the last confirmed Studio II release, as it was actually manufactured down at the NC along with the other released games. Its late part numbers and the relative lack of a specific "Studio II" mention compared to the other II games reinforce this conclusion.

 

Bingo was certainly a planned Studio II release per contemporary sources, and there was clearly some sort of second TV Casino Series release planned, as evidenced by all of the cart labels and manuals indicating that Blackjack was only the first game in the Series.

 

I think it's more accurate to say they're both SII compatible games, of which one came out commercially on Studio II. As far as I can see from this thread it may not have been the last game to hit the market, but it was put out pretty late.

 

^This! :)

 

Biorhythm is the last Studio II game that actually did get a release. The mystery as to why Bingo ended up not seeing a US release remains, and will unless an RCA document explicitly saying why emerges.

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Andy Modla just uploaded a nice PDF scan of his personal copy of the compendium of Instruction Manuals for all of the "Black and White" Studio II games and the "Color" Studio III game:

 

https://github.com/ajavamind/rca-studio2/blob/master/Documents/Game_Instruction_Manual_for_Studio_II_and_Studio_III.pdf

 

 

Game_Instruction_Manual_for_Studio_II_and_Studio_III.pdf

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So who is the first to make a S3 compatible homebrew? It appears all of Paul's and Lee's games are B&W, and I'm not updated on how easy it would be for them to "patch in" colours in the source code or if it requires a redesign of the entire code.

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So who is the first to make a S3 compatible homebrew? It appears all of Paul's and Lee's games are B&W, and I'm not updated on how easy it would be for them to "patch in" colours in the source code or if it requires a redesign of the entire code.

When I spoke with Andy Modla about converting his Blackjack SII game to SIII, he said he did have to make code changes and additional refactoring to cram it in, as the cart size was the same as the SII version. So I guess it depends on how much space is left and how much they can whittle it down!

 

Also for the tape investigators, Modla's manual includes a little bit of information on the back about what they used back in the day, the starting address/ending bytes, and confirms that each side of the tape includes two copies of the program.

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RCA had already discontinued the Studio II by the Spring of '78, yet internal documents indicate that they still had plans for future videogame products. This particular document from the Archives confirms the origin of all of the overseas "Studio II" clones as Studio IIIs in all but name, that RCA did indeed initiate the plans with an (unidentified) Near East company to produce and market at least 200,000 such clones, and also confirms that less than 200,000 Studio II systems were ever manufactured in the US. At long last we know the origins of all the clones!

 

 

 

 

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Some of the surviving RCA coin-op instruction sheets. These seem designed to have been lit from behind, as they are all printed on a hard and transparent plastic, and were used as part of the actual arcade machines. This should be of interest to arcade historians and collectors, as these machines seem to have fallen into an undeserved obscurity. The Bowling game is the same one that later made it's way into the Studio II as one of the 5 built-in games.

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Edited by Blazing Lazers
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Sketches of some of the coin-op control panels (there were multiple different ones), and also of the board schematics for the machines themselves. Found among various documents that confirm that the FRED coin-ops were intended to use swappable 2K ROM chips for switching programs, which would allow multiple different games to be played on the same cabinet. In other words, the same exact concept that SNK used with the Neo Geo MVS (and Nintendo with the Playchoice), yet one that was done far earlier. If RCA had simply decided to patent and license this tech out to other companies, well, everything would have been quite different.

 

There's also a slot for an additional, optional ROM board that would have a "Demo" playing on loop- a very early version of Attract Mode.

 

Also of note is that the two main chips were later consolidated into the lone 1802 chip when this same tech was consolized into the Studio II.

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Edited by Blazing Lazers
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RCA had already discontinued the Studio II by the Spring of '78, yet internal documents indicate that they still had plans for future videogame products. This particular document from the Archives confirms the origin of all of the overseas "Studio II" clones as Studio IIIs in all but name, that RCA did indeed initiate the plans with an (unidentified) Near East company to produce and market at least 200,000 such clones, and also confirms that less than 200,000 Studio II systems were ever manufactured in the US. At long last we know the origins of all the clones!

 

I suppose "Far East" is a way to say "Hong-Kong" without naming it in text? :D

Given how much they made Pong and other clones (from the MPT family, that include the MPT-02 Studio III) it was probably Soundic. Unless Soudic was itself merely the name of a Hong-Kong company that ordered and sold cloned game systems form smaller and unknow factories in Hong-Kong or maybe Taïwan...

What's for sure is that Soundic Pongs and MPT-05 machines bear PCB labelled as "SD" which does sounds like Soundic.

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I suppose "Far East" is a way to say "Hong-Kong" without naming it in text? :D

Given how much they made Pong and other clones (from the MPT family, that include the MPT-02 Studio III) it was probably Soundic. Unless Soudic was itself merely the name of a Hong-Kong company that ordered and sold cloned game systems form smaller and unknow factories in Hong-Kong or maybe Taïwan...

What's for sure is that Soundic Pongs and MPT-05 machines bear PCB labelled as "SD" which does sounds like Soundic.

When I found that particular document in the Archives I showed it to a contemporary source (who I was looking through the documents with) and was quickly informed that it meant Asia, so yes, it definitely does mean Hong Kong specifically. A current working theory is that it went from RCA to the unnamed Near East company (it has to be wither Soundic or Toshiba) and then to various Australian and European electronics manufacturers/resellers.

 

And yes, it does seem as though they wanted to avoid mentioning too much in the way of specifics regarding who they were dealing with as to the Studio III tech. There's also a curios lack of surviving documentation, too- almost as if anything relevant was intentionally lost or set aside long ago. The one document above was actually found in unrelated files and seemed to have been kept by sheer chance. It's really amazing that it's taken almost 40 years for these clones to be recognized as Studio III tech, and that in all this time no real documents have surfaced in how they all came to be.

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Also interesting that RCA were willing to continue developing technology and software, just not manufacture themselves. Perhaps the unnamed Far East company (companies?) had expressed an interest to license multiple products depending on what RCA could offer them, thus the will to keep the Studio IV alive?

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There's also a curios lack of surviving documentation, too- almost as if anything relevant was intentionally lost or set aside long ago. The one document above was actually found in unrelated files and seemed to have been kept by sheer chance.

 

In my experience, most businesses are very reluctant to preserve archival records -- at least anything of value to a future historian.

 

What is the provenance of these records, i.e. how did they come to the archives that has them now? Did they come directly from RCA (who may have redacted them prior to the donation), or were they from a private individual (who may only have received or retained documents directly relevant to his/her/its job)?

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When I found that particular document in the Archives I showed it to a contemporary source (who I was looking through the documents with) and was quickly informed that it meant Asia, so yes, it definitely does mean Hong Kong specifically. A current working theory is that it went from RCA to the unnamed Near East company (it has to be wither Soundic or Toshiba) and then to various Australian and European electronics manufacturers/resellers.

 

And yes, it does seem as though they wanted to avoid mentioning too much in the way of specifics regarding who they were dealing with as to the Studio III tech. There's also a curios lack of surviving documentation, too- almost as if anything relevant was intentionally lost or set aside long ago. The one document above was actually found in unrelated files and seemed to have been kept by sheer chance. It's really amazing that it's taken almost 40 years for these clones to be recognized as Studio III tech, and that in all this time no real documents have surfaced in how they all came to be.

 

Well, now we know why the Studio II clones seemed to be more advanced than the actual Studio II, and that is because they actually were as they weren't Studio IIs, but Studio IIIs instead. Very, very interesting. Someone needs to bring this to the attention of YouTubers like The Gaming Historian, or Wrestling with Gaming. I am sure one of those guys would love to do a video over this.

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I actually want to do a video or two on all this Studio II stuff if I can ever make it to the Hagley myself! Schedule problems and car trouble have been vexing me.

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I'm investigating the binary image AUD_2464_09_B41_ID01_01_01.rom 2.02KB from a coin game cassette, and

here is what I found so far:

1. The rom size is just over 2048 bytes, that indicates parts of RAM were stored on tape, but more likely the audio to binary conversion is not valid.

2. Analyzing the code I see an interpreter in the first 512 bytes with pseudo code starting at 0x200. The interpreter is not Studio II or CHIP-8, rather looks like FEL-1,

FRED II experimental language that has origins around same time as arcade game console builds based on Hagley documents. The pseudo op code decoder matches FEL-1 for some instructions I looked at.

RAM starts at 0x800 with video display at 0x900.

3. Running the code in a 1802 emulator reveals mostly valid codes, but there are major problems causing errors because it goes into an infinite loop with pseudo code program counter outside of the expected memory range. All it takes is one incorrect byte conversion unfortunately.

 

Please try again to decode the audio to binary and compare the two stored versions on the tape. Thanks, Andy Modla

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