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

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I never wondered what "MPT" stand for but now... :P (lol!)

 

Exact, the Conic or Sheen M1200 are identical except for the company name label. Conic made various OEM game console, especially Pong consoles.

I think they have made at least 15 different models back then. Not only Conic made OEM version, also Radofin, Sands, etc..(just to name a few) made

EOM version and sold them to other companies. Hence, that's why there's more than 1,000 Pong consoles worldwide and because of that, that gave the

first videogame crash (in 1977) and thanks to Fairchild, Atari, Bally and of course RCA, the crash hadn't much impact as the one in 1983 thanks to

"game cartridges".

 

BTW, Hanimex wasn't a a company that produced game consoles, but was in fact a videogame consoles distributor as Hanimex had a worldwide

distribution network for their well known cameras and accessories.

 

This was repeated with the Interton VC 4000 clones as those were made by Radofin, but that's another story as we are drifting off the main subject. :)

 

--- Sly DC ---

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Interesting! So hanimex just distributed consoles by many different companies under their name? They were leisure dynamics in Canada behind the leisurevision and the six pack multi tap for the 2600.

 

And the mpt 05 is a interton clone too....These weird mpt systems!! :)

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Oh yes, we also have Trevi M1200 in Italy, which as far as I understand is the same thing as Conic M1200. Also the Mustang 9016 Telespiel Computer seems to be nothing but a label variation.

Edited by carlsson
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Yes I think all four are the same, 5 if you include the 2 versions of the sheen.

I should open some of these and check what the boards are marked with.

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Found these two documents while at Hagley today looking through the Richard Peterson papers. Looks like theyre game development papers for two unreleased Studio III games, but thats all I got. Neither seems to be on any tapes so it seems possible that they just never got started.

post-372-0-74059600-1552179132_thumb.jpeg

post-372-0-69066300-1552179157_thumb.jpeg

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All the European & Australian clones were made by Conic, but a casing can and/or could have been made by a different company.

 

A good example would be the Academy Apollo 80 which is more "square" than the Conic M1200. Maybe it was Conic who have the casing

as per asked specific...for that who knows...?!

 

The Conic M1200, Mustand 9016, Sheen M1200 and Trevi M1200 have the same casing. The Hanimex and the Soundic have both the same

casing BUT have have a slight difference with the boards, the Soundic has the built-in games but the Hanimex version doesn't have the built-in

game, that's why it came with the "Grand Pack" cartridge.

 

And finally, the Toshiba Visicom COM-100 is a unique clone and the RCA Studio II of course! ;)

 

But did you know that there is 3 prototype Studio II/III clones ?

 

First the Victory-III prototype featured in Creative Computing Sept/Oct 1978 issue (page 39):

https://archive.org/details/CreativeComputingbetterScan197809/page/n39

 

Second, the RCA Video-Mate Electronic TV Games:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/209519-rca-studio-ii-gold-mine-an-interview-with-the-studio-2-production-manager/page-47?do=findComment&comment=3872331

 

And third, the Toshiba prototype:

proto02.jpg

 

See the weird triangle thing in the down-left corner ? Wait, here's a zoom-in:

 

proto01.jpg

 

Well this prototype has a CDP1802 cpu and play the game Bowling so pretty sure that

the prototype of the Toshiba Visicom.

 

I don't remember where the hell i've got those two pictures (comes from a Japanese magazine)

and that prototype was shown at the 1976 electronic show (in Tokyo ?).

 

The only mention of this prototype on the web is here: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/cvs/odyssey/videogames/never/nrsystems.html

 

And beside the very (same) small picture, here's the translation:

 

Okura Shoji's video game (from the '76 electronics show)

* Perhaps this is a different version of RCA Studio II (see ⇒ Vidicon system section)

 

At that time, Okura Shoji was RCA 's Japan' s agency, and the installed CPU was the same.
So that's it for now...! =)
--- Sly DC ---
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Found these two documents while at Hagley today looking through the Richard Peterson papers. Looks like theyre game development papers for two unreleased Studio III games, but thats all I got. Neither seems to be on any tapes so it seems possible that they just never got started.

 

Cool find ubersaurus!

 

The Blockout game exists for the Chip8 and Chip8X

vip_blockout.png

 

The picture is from the Emma02 web site (https://www.emma02.hobby-site.com/vip.html)

Hope Marcel won't mind! ;)

 

But as for the Soccer game, never saw it on Chip8. This game must be quite slow if there is two

teams of 11 players on screen but would have been a great game to had (or have ?! ... if any

homebrewer is up to it =) ).

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So now we know for sure that there were other Studio 3 games- ones that weren't ever on any (known) clone systems! Both would presumably have remained in the TV Arcade Series had they ever been released. Aside from these two new discoveries the only other planned but not released (anywhere) Studio games are the Acey-Ducey, Horseracing, and Poker games mentioned in the internal 1976 presentation.

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If those were meant to be Studio III games, does it date the documents to 1978 or thereabouts?

 

I understand the arcade game Blockade (Gremlin) from 1976 was the origin for the entire genre, which saw home releases such as Checkmate (Bally Astrocade 1977), Surround (Atari 2600, 1977/78), Worm (TRS-80, 1978), SNAFU (Intellivision 1981) etc. Thus it fits nicely into the time frame that RCA needed a such game on their system too, not that it would have been groundbreaking. Obviously the light cycle sequence from Disney's TRON from 1982 was the one that really set off the flood of such games on home computers.

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Unfortunately the documents were undated and had no names attached, but I would wager lte 77-early 78. As far as I know the Studio III development work was largely halted around February, when the II was killed.

 

Also I found this legal document in Billie Joe Calls papers. Sounds like at least one circuit board was made for the coin arcade, and still existed up until 1990 at the least. Anyone in Kansas City fancy checking the legal documents for Alpex v Nintendo to find that photo?

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I've been doing some additional digging into Studio II release dates using a newspapers.com subscription a friend is helping me out with. I've found that a local ad in the Palladium Item on oct. 30 (A Richmond, Indiana newspaper) they were talking about 10 carts now being available. Furthermore, this article I've attached from the Index- Journal circa Nov. 10 lists all the games by name, including Gunfighter and Speedway and Biorhythm.

 

Therefore, despite the Galveston newspaper coverage of Gunfighter from September, it seems likely that those two games and Biorhythm started being sold more widely in November, if not all at the same time. No sign of Bingo in any advertising or coverage that I've come across from 1977 or 78.

post-372-0-39624700-1552438986_thumb.jpg

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Found these two documents while at Hagley today looking through the Richard Peterson papers. Looks like theyre game development papers for two unreleased Studio III games, but thats all I got. Neither seems to be on any tapes so it seems possible that they just never got started.

 

I just remembered the following document that I saw at Hagley on a previous visit:

 

http://atariage.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2018/post-33467-0-62294200-1518729224.jpgpost-33467-0-62294200-1518729224.jpg

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(also if I could figure out why this site keeps rotating everything side ways that would be great)

Seems to happen when I take a picture with my phone. Simply opening it in paint & rotating it before uploading doesn't work. I have to open the pic w/paint, rotate it, copy it, paste it into another paint document, then resave it.

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Seems to happen when I take a picture with my phone. Simply opening it in paint & rotating it before uploading doesn't work. I have to open the pic w/paint, rotate it, copy it, paste it into another paint document, then resave it.

 

It's because of the embedded exif data on the photo, which programs read and "auto rotate" your photos for convenience.

 

When you copy it and paste it's removing the exif data.

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Spoke again with Paul Russo this afternoon to try and clarify a few things that have come up in research materials since I last spoke to him in October. Some highlights:

 

He also has no idea why the retail RCA Studio II is called the Studio II, nor does he know who at Special Products came up with the name. He's pretty sure that had consumer products picked it up (instead of dismissing video games as a fad), they'd have picked a better name for the retail unit and probably pushed to have a color unit ready from the start. He added that while it seemed that the system was finalized in early 1976, the way that hardware (and chip) development worked at the time meant that it was probably not quite ready for prime time until it started getting shopped out to the FCC later that year for their approval. This could coincide with the tapes we found with different built-in game versions on them - the rest of the hardware may have been together, but the actual software/games were still in flux and in development, and as he noted they wanted to ensure they had software ready and set for the launch.

 

As far as SII software goes, he said while the first few games were done by one group (Weisbecker and Baltzer, most likely) the rest were developed by a separate group (which would have been Modla and van der Waal, I assume). He didn't know much of anything about that 2nd group, as by that point he was not quite as involved on the software side of things.

 

But bouncing back to when he was more involved, he recalls that Joe Weisbecker, himself, and Tony Robbi were the developers of the arcade games, but doesn't remember who did which ones. He added that Joe did most of them simply because he knew the architecture and programming language better than anyone else, and could thus write faster. He adds that Robbi, himself, and Weisbecker (and also Billie Joe Call) would simply take home the FRED and arcade hardware units either to work on or when no one cared to mess with it anymore; as such he's pretty sure he might still have some prototype items in his house. I told him if he comes across any to let me know :P

 

Finally, regarding FRED - he confirmed that the hex keyboard he built for the very first FRED unit that only had switches on the front was basically a peripheral that plugged into it like a modern day keyboard might plug into a computer. He said they built a few internal RCA units - around 20 pounds each - of "FRED 1" simply as a way to test the architecture of what would become the 1802, maybe around 4 units total. Interestingly, he said John O'Neill's software group designed an assembler language for FRED a little down the line using a mainframe; you'd program into that and it would convert the program to something FRED could understand.

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Bought a giant estate sale lot of magazines from 1950's to 1980's for all types of electronics. Tons of vintage video game advertisements.

These sale ads from Radio Shack were found among them and I wasn't sure if they would help with the RCA timeline or not. One is for Oct. 1978 and the other is Christmas 1978.

 

"Realistic game sounds, too" Hahahaha

 

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For $60 bucks and three additional carts, that wasn't too bad of a deal IMO.

Bought a giant estate sale lot of magazines from 1950's to 1980's for all types of electronics. Tons of vintage video game advertisements.

These sale ads from Radio Shack were found among them and I wasn't sure if they would help with the RCA timeline or not. One is for Oct. 1978 and the other is Christmas 1978.

 

"Realistic game sounds, too" Hahahaha

 

attachicon.gifIMG_0701.jpgattachicon.gifIMG_0702.jpgattachicon.gifIMG_0703.jpgattachicon.gifIMG_0704.jpg

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Elementary Electronics November-December 1977 Issue.

 

"At the time this article is being prepared three cartridges are available: Space War, Fun with Numbers, and TV Schoolhouse."

 

post-50008-0-05399000-1558016843_thumb.jpgpost-50008-0-39356300-1558016872_thumb.jpg

Edited by gamerMac
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Allow me to throw a little more fuel into the Bingo fires... I was doing a twitter search last night about the Studio II just to see if anyone's been sharing info from this thread/other sources, and came across someone who tweeted last month about remembering his mother bringing home a Studio II around 1978 with "Pong" and "Bingo." 

 

I followed up with him; he doesn't still have any of that stuff, but said his mother worked at RCA, which is likely how she got access to this stuff. I'm checking to see if he remembers what she did; dunno if this would have been one of the two copies already accounted for or if this is a third, lost copy. If it's the latter, then the mystery continues as to whether or not it was just a handful of marketing samples or if it did get some very limited release among RCA people.

 

Edit: She was a plant secretary.

Edited by ubersaurus
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11 hours ago, ubersaurus said:

Allow me to throw a little more fuel into the Bingo fires... I was doing a twitter search last night about the Studio II just to see if anyone's been sharing info from this thread/other sources, and came across someone who tweeted last month about remembering his mother bringing home a Studio II around 1978 with "Pong" and "Bingo." 

 

I followed up with him; he doesn't still have any of that stuff, but said his mother worked at RCA, which is likely how she got access to this stuff. I'm checking to see if he remembers what she did; dunno if this would have been one of the two copies already accounted for or if this is a third, lost copy. If it's the latter, then the mystery continues as to whether or not it was just a handful of marketing samples or if it did get some very limited release among RCA people.

 

Edit: She was a plant secretary.

Awesomeness! I think if we can find more anecdotes like this from back in the day we can come to a fairly sure conclusion about the longstanding TV Bingo mystery!

 

I think if they really had this treasure it would be a 5th copy, at least. The following is the registry, off the top of my head:

 

Verified surviving copies:

1) Boxed and legendary PC2K1 copy originally found and owned by Dan in 2000 at the Circle 40 Flea Market outside of Philly and displayed at PC2K1,  resurfaced in 2018 and sold for $4,000 and now owned by Blazing Lazers. Has a red cart holder, as was with the big-box Schoolhouse release. Missing the red marker chips. Cart in good shape, bingo cards in mint condition with original plastic baggie. Has 2 manuals, which are internal RCA photocopies. Original owner unknown but the presence of internal RCA photocopies suggests an RCA employee.

 

2) Complete copy (minus bingo card baggie) with blue cart holder originally owned by RCA employee Joseph Santone in NJ, placed up for auction on Ebay in 2016, sold to a very worthy and reputable collector for $3,500. Source of our US ROM dump.

 

 

Confirmed copies, present status unknown:

 

3) Copy seen with full retail packaging back in the day by the game's programmer Andy Modla.

 

4) Copy/copies? with manual used to make photocopies found with the PC2K1 copy.

 

 

Other probable copies, may or may not be from the above:

 

5) copy used for internal RCA testing and instruction manual completion. At least one TV Bingo cartridge copy is mentioned in a surviving RCA game manual compendium.

 

6) Likely Tom Keiser copy, found among the trashed belongings of a former RCA employee (or relative of one). A dozen Studio 2 titles were found in a Philly suburb, among them a boxed Demonstration. Only ten games with one Demo gives us high odds of the 12th game being a copy of TV Bingo. The entire lot was lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

 

7) This newly known of copy, found by Ubersaurus on a Twitter post mention. Copy may no longer exist. More to follow on this. As with the other known and possible copies, there's an association with a former RCA employee.

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12 hours ago, ubersaurus said:

Allow me to throw a little more fuel into the Bingo fires... I was doing a twitter search last night about the Studio II just to see if anyone's been sharing info from this thread/other sources, and came across someone who tweeted last month about remembering his mother bringing home a Studio II around 1978 with "Pong" and "Bingo." 

 

I followed up with him; he doesn't still have any of that stuff, but said his mother worked at RCA, which is likely how she got access to this stuff. I'm checking to see if he remembers what she did; dunno if this would have been one of the two copies already accounted for or if this is a third, lost copy. If it's the latter, then the mystery continues as to whether or not it was just a handful of marketing samples or if it did get some very limited release among RCA people.

 

Edit: She was a plant secretary.

 

Wow.  She might also have something more rare than even Bingo.  This is pretty exciting stuff.

 

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As an update, the twitter fellow confirmed she was the secretary at the Swannanoa plant in North Carolina - the same one that the Studio II stuff was manufactured at (and which started this whole thread off!)

 

Said that they got rid of their Studio II stuff back in the mid-80s, but doesn't remember if they threw it out or sold it. I would be surprised if it's one of the two accounted for; more likely it's either still floating around in North Carolina somewhere or is in a landfill.

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3 hours ago, ubersaurus said:

As an update, the twitter fellow confirmed she was the secretary at the Swannanoa plant in North Carolina - the same one that the Studio II stuff was manufactured at (and which started this whole thread off!)

 

Said that they got rid of their Studio II stuff back in the mid-80s, but doesn't remember if they threw it out or sold it. I would be surprised if it's one of the two accounted for; more likely it's either still floating around in North Carolina somewhere or is in a landfill.

This is literally game changing information in terms of what we know about Bingo. None of the Swannanoa folks I spoke with remembered anything about this one game (but then again, why would they?), it wasn't among the titles I received from the head of the plant, and all of the other evidence to include both known copies was solidly rooted in the South Jersey/Philly area. If it was at the main production factory in NC then there would have been much more copies made, and this very well could have seen a release somewhere beyond the Family Stores. This is huge, and there'll definitely be more on this. Awesome catch on this one!

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