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  Hello, I'm new to the forum as a member, but have read posts on here for a long time.  I am a private collector of video game consoles and have some 300+ units.  I find the history of consoles interesting.  Recently, I game upon Game Kraken's article about the original designer of the Home Arcade (Most often referred to as the Arcadia 2001).   They did some sleuthing and determined that it was "likely" created by a company in Hong Kong known as Universal Appliances Limited and not Emmerson.   That got my brain wheels spinning, because it would be nice to confirm that UAL themselves came up with it, and they weren't contracted by another company to create it.   I decided to see if I could reach out to someone that had worked for the company to get some answers.  Unfortunately, trying to find a contact for UAL has not met with success.  They do own the patents to Home Arcade and most of the Arcadia games.  And it is my assumption that they created the Arcadia to compete against the Intellivision which was being produced by Radofin for Mattel.

What I did do, was reach out to the former CEO of Radofin.  Radofin had created the 1292 and 1392 Advanced Programmable Video Game System.   (Note, Laury Scott refers to this as the 2392 rather than 1392.  Not sure if that was a typo and intend to ask him about it in a follow-up call.)  This was a standardized design that allowed for different game systems to use the same ROM based game cartridges.  Think of it like the 3DO of the 70's.   The CEO, Laury Scott, was able to fill in a lot of information about the history of the company and many things they did.  His memory of that time is excellent.  I thought I would share here portions of our conversation for the other historians on here, who might like a peek into what the history was back then.  I plan to have a follow-up call with Mr. Scott, so if anyone has any questions, I can ask him and relay the answers here if he has them.  I also think Laury Scott and Radofin deserve a bigger footnote in gaming history, you'll see why below...

Note, example photos provided by Mr. Scott.  All words are his except where indicated by -Ed


On Mr. Scott's history

I was very involved in the Video Game Industries early days.  From Pong style games at Radofin (more about this below) we went on to manufacture Intellivision for Mattel and then in the 90's I worked for Atari and was responsible for the manufacture of their Jaguar game console and cartridges.  And in between Intellivision and Atari we made the Aquarius Home Computer.  (Editors note - Laury Scott may also have been involved with Radica Games.  I intend to confirm that on our next call.)

Radofin the company

Radofin was owned 51% by an English public company (S. Leboff (Fobel) Ltd.) and 49% by my family.  During the video game era I ran the Manufacturing in Hong Kong (my title was originally Managing Director of Radofin Electronics (HK) Ltd and later evolved to MD and President as MD is a British title and some of the US clients did not understand that it is equivalent to a US CEO).

Radofin was one of a number of contract manufacturers in Hong Kong.   We build product for others.  It may have been our design, their design or some combination of the two.   Let me explain, we would design products and then sell them to consumer electronic importers in the US and Europe.  Other times we had clients bring us a finished design or finished product (being made in the US or Europe) and ask us to produce it (at a lower cost).  And there were other cases where a client brought us an idea and we designed products to spec.

Radofin's main products were designed by our own engineering team and then sold to customers around the world.  We had a number of competitors doing the same thing and so their games competed against ours in the marketplace.

We opened Radofin Hong Kong in 1974 to build hand held calculators.  Our main chip supplier was General Instruments and we built and sold a lot of calculators.  In 1976 (I think) GI came up with their video game chip and we ordered a lot.  Supply was limited and GI was behind in delivery (to everyone) from day 1.  Luckily as a large customer for their calculator chips we got a good allocation of the video game chips.  We called our game Tele-sports and it was one of the first GI based video game consoles.


1634169011958blob.thumb.jpg.64da5e3e6f16a569e70c60cdf1c02f42.jpg

We were the first ones to come up with the idea of the stick figure icons (which many of our competitors copied) and this game won the prestigious Hong Kong Governor's Award for Design.  We produced it in two versions - 4 games (as in the file photo above) and 6 games (added 2 target shooting games using a pistol).  We signed a royalty agreement with Magnavox as they held many early video game patents and sold this model mainly in Europe the first year.  There were a couple of reasons for this.  First, we already were selling calculators and audio products to European importers (mainly private labeled in their own brands) and so had a ready distribution channel.  Second, to sell in the US you would need FCC approval and while we did get it, it was not easy in the early days.  And so we were late in the year to be able to offer it.  And GI was not able to meet demand and we did not have the volume of chips to satisfy large US customers (importers or retailers).

1634170083464blob.jpg.e5d5f11f7c9a2bc29df8cf42678883ce.jpg

 

1634170140923blob.jpg.a8b6f1ffbc8891c265b0900763399a57.jpg

 

At the same time we were selling our games to Europe and Australia.  These are the ones I can remember off the top of my head
 
UK - Radofin Brand to Boots and Woolworths
        Prinztronic Brand to Dixons
        Acetronic Brand to Ace Electronics
 
Australia - Fountain (Probably New Zealand - Ed)
 
Holland - Audiosonic
 
France - Lansay
 
Germany - Radofin and Triton Brand to various importers
                Hanimex Brand to Hanimex (who sold across Europe and Australia)
                Interton Brand to Interton(e?) Electronics
 
I was told that we sold more games in the UK than Atari that year.
 
In 1977 (I think) we also manufactured the Odyssey 3000 for Magnavox.


1634174873585blob.jpg.cd05b5ba92a4c1704ad61a690d334e2e.jpg

 

I think it was 1978 - video game prices were falling dramatically so we designed a low end model which was sold into the US and Europe.

1634175152768blob.jpg.12ff58ab401efe8e4ce79c72e0a9b2f5.jpg

 

1292 and 2392
 

In 1978 we used the Signetics chipset to come up with a programable game (the 1292 and later the 2392).  The first cartridge we developed was a Space Invaders knock off.  Space Invaders was the hot game in Japan at that time and you found them in Arcades, coffee shops, etc.  I actually went to Japan and bought one of the game/coffee tables off of a coffee shop owner and shipped it back to HK where we reverse engineered it.  We had a virtually identical game to Taito's Space Invaders.

Like GI, Signetics  were not able to meet delivery commitments.  I know that they sold their chipset to a number of companies, both in Hong Kong and in Europe.

Philips/Signetics just offered their chipset to anyone wanting to buy it.  They developed a few game cartridges and we (the manufacturers) developed others.  As far as I remember the chips were branded Signetics not Philips.  (Philips had bought Signetics in 1975 - Ed)

(Sometimes Audiosonic is listed as the creator of the 1292 design.  I asked him about this. - Ed)
 
Audiosonic was the brand name of a Dutch Company (Electronics Niederland) and one of our customers (for audio, calculators and video games) and we private labeled games for them.  They were never a manufacturer as far as I know.


Mattel
 
And I am not sure if you are aware of it but we manufactured Intellivision for Mattel.    Because of our relationship with GI they recommended us to Mattel.
 
As a potential follow on to Intellivision we developed the Aquarius Home Computer.  Originally it was going to be sold world wide by Mattel but in 1983/4 (?) the banks pulled the plug.  Mattel was losing money and they were given the choice of (a) getting out of Electronics and (b) getting out of business.  They took the obvious choice.  Based on the share price at that time you could have bought Mattel for $???.  The following year Mattel made more profit from Barbie than you would have paid for the entire company (if you could have bought all the stock).

 
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This is great information.  I'm confused by some of it, but that's because so much of it is new to me and seems to go against the conventional understanding of the early history of the videogame consoles of the late 1970s/early 1980s.

 

I'm sure that you're already aware that Ward Shrake looked into the history of the Arcadia 2001 and came up with some of his own theories in the early 2000s.  Ward gave me permission to host the latest version (January 7, 2003) of his "Digital Archaeology: Arcadia 2001" website. This site originally was hosted on Digital Press's servers and later at Ward's own domain. Think of this version of Ward's site as a time capsule. It's exactly as you would have viewed it in 2003; nothing has been changed. In some ways, quite a bit of this information is still relevant to this day.

 

https://orphanedgames.com/DigitalArchaeologyArcadia2001/

 

You will find that the "Director's Cut" of DPCG7 (Digital Press Collector's Guide 7) is full of extremely worthwhile information.  The "Director's Cut" is Ward Shrake's console group section, as submitted to the editors of Digital Press for inclusion in their seventh edition of the "Digital Press Collector's Guide."   It is in Microsoft Word format:

 

https://orphanedgames.com/DigitalArchaeologyArcadia2001/texts/dp2001dc.doc

 

I suggest printing it out and combing through it to get some additional questions.  Maybe now, some of these nearly 20-year-old questions can finally be answered.

 

Adam

Edited by ballyalley
I forgot to link to the Digital Archaeology website for the Arcadia 2001.

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Hi Ballyalley,

  Thanks for the links!  Well, Game Kraken noted that at least two systems appeared before the Emmerson Arcadia.  And that Emmerson likely just was another licensee of the hardware.   Universal Appliances Limited owns the patents for the Home Arcade (The standard that the Arcadia 2001 and its clones are based on.)  They also own the patents to many of the games.  You can do a simple patent search online for Universal Appliances Limited and find them all listed with their respective names and the like.  In your document they are listed as "Emmerson" but Emmerson does not own the patents, it is UAL that does.  From my understanding, the majority of these games were created by UAL and patented.  We know that Bandai also created some.  There were likely others that you have in your list made by third parties.

In the FAQ section as well on your website, they talk about the Interton VC4000.   This is a 1292 or 2392 compatible system that was licensed from Radofin (Above) and is ROM compatible with other 1292 systems, of which there are many.  I believe the Interton units were likely the most popular of the series, but Interton did not come up with the hardware.  This work was done by Radofin.  

As Mr. Scott points out in the beginning, companies like Emmerson, Hanimex, Interton, etc would license or design a machine, and Radofin (And others) would build it.  They did the actual manufacturing.  There are some good articles about the APC m-1000 out there by the head engineer where he explains how he designed the APC m-1000 and worked with the manufacturers in Hong Kong (Unknown) and the way the back and forth worked there.  In that case, APC created the m-1000 design.  But with the Arcadia 2001, Emmerson did not design it.  UAL did, and owns the patents for it.   As well, with the VC-4000 from Interton, that was based on the 1292 design created by Radofin, and they just licensed it, wrote games for it, and sold it.   It's like the 3DO model.  3DO created the design of the game system, and Panasonic, Sanyo, Goldstar and others created their own licensed machine that was software compatible with others.  Same thing here.  Note, the Arcadia 2001 is NOT a 1292 system.  More on that below.

And that's essentially the purpose of what I was posting about Radofin and Mr. Scott.  Some of the historical information that is out there is inaccurate.  People assumed that Emmerson came up with the Arcadia design and games.  They did not.  Though they did own the name Arcadia and sued over it.  Another example of bad info that is out there, is that some people think that Interton VC-4000 was the main design and then it was cloned by others when in actuality the VC-4000 is a 1292 system with a unique cartridge port like many others that limited which units you could use the same cartridges on.  As noted in your article, the VC-4000/1292 systems were not compatible with the Home Arcade/Arcadia 2001 systems.  They had different display hardware.

Pure speculation on my part - What I think happened is that Radofin and UAL were competitors in Hong Kong making game systems for various companies around the world.  Radofin utilized General Instruments GIMINI setup (Processors on carts) and created the 1292/2392 console design based on Signetics chips with ROMS on carts.  (What the Interton VC4000 was based on)  It is likely that UAL also used GIMINI and 1292/2392.  Unfortunately there is little information about what other consoles UAL produced, since I don't have a contact with that company or any historic information other than their patent filings.  Mr. Scott was kind enough to provide "some" of the Radofin customers.  We don't know how many others they built for, and we don't know who the other manufacturers were except UAL.  (And I hear of Soundic a lot, but cannot confirm if they were a manufacturer)  When Radofin got the exclusive use of the high-end GIMINI package (Which became the Intellivision) UAL responded by improving the 1292/2392 design with a better graphics processor.  They then patented it as the Home Arcade and licensed it to everyone, one of those licensee's likely became the Emmerson Arcadia 2001.

I'd like to get in touch with someone from UAL to confirm that.  Unfortunately, UAL appears to have been owned by a Chinese family, and it is difficult to track down Chinese contacts due to the language barrier and limitations on their access to Western social media.   But, to be certain, UAL owns the patents.  They created Home Arcade (Arcadia 2001).  Emmerson was just a licensee.  

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One quick add.  In the FAQ section on your web page (Good stuff by the way!) there is a section on "Alien Invaders" and that it was manufactured by Signetics.  As Mr. Scott pointed out above, that was designed by Radofin for the 1292 systems.  I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get a 1292 game to work on an Arcadia 2001.  It would really depend on how different that display chip is.  Back then, they couldn't just recompile the code to work with different hardware.  It was all pretty much hardware specific.   Really interesting stuff.

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29 minutes ago, Knowledge said:

In the FAQ section on your web page (Good stuff by the way!) [...] Really interesting stuff.

 

I'm glad that you like the archived website.  Keep in mind that I only host Ward Shrake's early-2000s Arcadia 2001 website; he left the classic videogame hobby quite a few years ago.

 

On April 4, 2002, Ward started a Yahoo Groups discussion forum called "arcadia2001consoles" to help with his research into the Arcadia 2001.  Yahoo closed down their discussion groups a year or two ago.  The Arcadian group was restarted under the same name at group.io in December 2019, here:

 

https://groups.io/g/arcadia2001consoles/

 

The old messages that were posted to the Yahoo group did not come over to the the groups.io site, although they have all been archived.  You can find them via this message:

 

https://groups.io/g/arcadia2001consoles/topic/welcome/60601640

 

Surely, you've seen Amigan Software's "Emerson Arcadia 2001 Central" website, right?  If not, then here is a link to it:

 

http://amigan.yatho.com/

 

If you read through the old Yahoogroup messages (good luck with that; there are about 2,800 of them!), then you'll see how the understanding of the Arcadia's backstory begins to emerge slowly through a collaboration between Ward and others in the community into at the time, unnamed, 1392 Advanced Programmable Video Game System.  I always figured that Phillips had made the original ancestor of the Arcadia game machine and offered it out to manufacturers; I guess my idea isn't correct.  I'm glad to see that people are still digging into the history of this game console.  There is a book in that history; I can feel it.

 

There is plenty of Arcadia information out there, hidden away here and there:

 

You may find my AtariAge thread called "Arcadia 2001 Star Wars Art Rip-Off!" interesting:

 

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/276893-arcadia-2001-star-wars-art-rip-off/

 

Try searching through Archive.org for some material I uploaded:

 

https://archive.org/search.php?query=ballyalley%20arcadia

 

You will find 1981's book "The TV Games Computer: An Exciting Introduction to Microprocessors" by Paul Holmes enlightening too.  This link has the book and an interview with the author:

 

https://archive.org/details/TV-Games-Computer--Paul-Holmes-1981

 

I've also created a few Arcadia 2001 game review videos:

 

Space Attack (uploaded October 2017):

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO0kWSBoVDc

 

Cat Trax:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpuPl0KHlMM

 

Could you point me to the APF MP-1000 article that you're talking about saying that Radofin made the system?  This makes some sense, as the MP-1000 and the Tele-Fever actually share the exact same plastic bottom, as Ward Shrake pointed out in a post on February 23, 2008:

 

"Confirmed! Bill L. over on the APF message boards checked his APF and Arcadia 2001 / Leisure-Vision cart cases against one another, and he says the two are exactly alike, in most respects. (He didn't know Arcadia had both styles of "doors" on the carts: sliding and open.)

 

"He also confirmed that the bottom half of the plastic case for the APF machine matches the bottom half of the Arcadia console; and the top is the only part that differs by any significant amount. So ... now we know another piece of a very confusing puzzle! (And as always, it's expanding what else we need to find out, to see it all.)"

 

Ward added these two pictures to the Arcadia discussion group around the time he posted the above message:

 

"APF MP-1000 and Tele-Fever  Share Plastic Parts:"

 

APF_and_Tele-Fever_share_plastic_parts.thumb.jpg.b7736508ef0d1191aa7efdca7d754a63.jpg

 

and, "APF MP-1000 with 2001 cart inserted:"

 

APF_MP-1000_with_2001_cart_inserted.thumb.jpg.1c809008877e40922e86b4c5193ecb99.jpg

 

You'll notice that my primary classic gaming interest is the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, but the Arcadia 2001 is certainly neat!  I don't have the console anymore, but I do dabble with it now and then by trying to keep up with whatever historical research into the system is happening.  I also, at one time, had a fondness for playing with the console's usual choice of the 2650 CPU.  My days of exploring the Arcadia's history are behind me now, but I'm glad to be of some assistance pointing out what has been discovered already.

 

Adam

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I love this! I'm a huge 1292 fan and outside of the elusive programming cart I have a full set of the 'radofin' and franchise lines. I also have a recently acquired DataBase system with the 3 (or was it 2) games that didn't come out for the Radofin franchise line. 

 

In terms of compatability with its nearest competitors my understanding is they are all fairly basic and there is a lot of cross compatability in these systems if you stick a rom into it. I too figured that philips was behind some of the development of the 1292 line, and this seems to confirm they did have some involvement, but not necessarily the control of it (I think they may have had a similar quiet involvement with the PC-50X line that came out in 1975). I always figured that one of the franchise names had more control and sold it on, and I think Radofin was the most likely one, it's interesting hearing about the Britishisms as well, and obviously at the time Hong Kong was British and a lot of manufacturing of products destined for UK came from there. The franchise names all match my research and I've seen versions of all of those on ebay from time to time. Fountain which is the Australia varient has a significantly smaller box for their games, presumably to save on costs, where as the European brands mostly stuck sticker labels on original boxes with their brand on it. 

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On 10/16/2021 at 5:38 PM, ballyalley said:

 

"Could you point me to the APF MP-1000 article that you're talking about saying that Radofin made the system?  This makes some sense, as the MP-1000 and the Tele-Fever actually share the exact same plastic bottom, as Ward Shrake pointed out in a post on February 23, 2008:"

 

 

 

  I was a bit busy today, so I will look through your links and information tomorrow or Tuesday.  Thanks for posting all of that, I may find some good stuff to ask Mr. Scott about.   On the APF M-1000 / MP-1000...  Sorry for the confusion on the APF M-1000.   Ed Smith wrote a book about his time working with APC and creating the imagination machine.  There is a good write-up on him here - https://www.fastcompany.com/3063298/ed-smith-and-the-imagination-machine-the-untold-story-of-a-black-vid     I have not read anywhere which Hong Kong company worked with APF.  I will ask Mr. Scott if he knows if Radofin did any work for APC.  It's possible, but it may have been another company.  I will also try to reach out to Ed Smith and see if he knows who they worked with.  I'm also going to buy his book if it's still available, as maybe he talks about it in there.  It would be nice to know more details.

Oh, and I do own an Astrocade.  It is missing the top translucent plastic.  It is the white labeled one, I forget what they had named it then.   Every time I try to buy a loose plastic top on Ebay, the price spirals out of control.  Eventually I'll score one.  Controllers were great for that time period.  System was ahead of its time.

Edited by Knowledge
Misaligned the quote box

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Hi there, as a long time collector and researcher of everything Arcadia I would also like to drop in some questions but I need some more days as I am dead busy. Is the any date set when you want to talk to Mr. Scott? I need to read through all this anyways.

Cheers

Stefan

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3 hours ago, steve-vx said:

Hi there, as a long time collector and researcher of everything Arcadia I would also like to drop in some questions but I need some more days as I am dead busy. Is the any date set when you want to talk to Mr. Scott? I need to read through all this anyways.

Cheers

Stefan

Hi Stefan,

  I haven't setup the call with him yet, so you have some time.  I ordered Ed Smith's book and want to scan through it to see if he mentions anything about his Hong Kong partners.  I also reached out to him online but not sure if he'll get back to me.

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Hey guys.
I have researched the history of systems 1292 and everything you discussed is fantastic. It really is a difficult puzzle to ride.
Much of what I had already read about Assust pointed out that Signnetics created the base system and disseminated for those who wanted to set up his, but for the information here of the forum, Radofin did it along with significance, only .

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On 10/16/2021 at 7:46 PM, Mikebloke said:

I too figured that philips was behind some of the development of the 1292 line, and this seems to confirm they did have some involvement, but not necessarily the control of it 

You only have to look at the datasheet for the Signetics 2636 and the included schematic for a games console to see that they created an entire chipset, processor, video chip, sync generator and video encoder that forms the heart of these systems. It is of course possible that they worked with feedback from a customer, or customers, to come up with the central design, but most of the work so obviously comes down to the chip manufacturer. The main thing missing from that schematic is the external audio circuitry that controls volume and white noise, and specifically the assignment of the universally adopted choice of data bits that drive them. Discovering how that was set in stone would be enlightening. 

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19 hours ago, Derek Andrews said:

The main thing missing from that schematic is the external audio circuitry that controls volume and white noise, and specifically the assignment of the universally adopted choice of data bits that drive them. Discovering how that was set in stone would be enlightening. 

 

The origin of the sound for these "Signetics systems" (or whatever we call this console family nowadays) doesn't originate in Paul Holmes' book "The TV Games Computer, An Exciting Introduction to Microprocessors," but I think it offers a couple of different solutions.  The pdf can be found in various places, but a nice place to download it is on archive.org:

 

https://archive.org/details/TV-Games-Computer--Paul-Holmes-1981/Paul_Holmes_Interview_Stefan_Piasecki_2002_TV_Games_Computer/page/n0/mode/2up

 

An interview with the author and notes about the archive are included there too.

 

Adam

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On 10/15/2021 at 10:22 PM, Knowledge said:

  Hello, I'm new to the forum as a member, but have read posts on here for a long time.  I am a private collector of video game consoles and have some 300+ units.  I find the history of consoles interesting.  Recently, I game upon Game Kraken's article about the original designer of the Home Arcade (Most often referred to as the Arcadia 2001).   They did some sleuthing and determined that it was "likely" created by a company in Hong Kong known as Universal Appliances Limited and not Emmerson.   That got my brain wheels spinning, because it would be nice to confirm that UAL themselves came up with it, and they weren't contracted by another company to create it.   I decided to see if I could reach out to someone that had worked for the company to get some answers.  Unfortunately, trying to find a contact for UAL has not met with success.  They do own the patents to Home Arcade and most of the Arcadia games.  And it is my assumption that they created the Arcadia to compete against the Intellivision which was being produced by Radofin for Mattel.

What I did do, was reach out to the former CEO of Radofin.  Radofin had created the 1292 and 1392 Advanced Programmable Video Game System.   (Note, Laury Scott refers to this as the 2392 rather than 1392.  Not sure if that was a typo and intend to ask him about it in a follow-up call.)  This was a standardized design that allowed for different game systems to use the same ROM based game cartridges.  Think of it like the 3DO of the 70's.   The CEO, Laury Scott, was able to fill in a lot of information about the history of the company and many things they did.  His memory of that time is excellent.  I thought I would share here portions of our conversation for the other historians on here, who might like a peek into what the history was back then.  I plan to have a follow-up call with Mr. Scott, so if anyone has any questions, I can ask him and relay the answers here if he has them.  I also think Laury Scott and Radofin deserve a bigger footnote in gaming history, you'll see why below...

Note, example photos provided by Mr. Scott.  All words are his except where indicated by -Ed


On Mr. Scott's history

I was very involved in the Video Game Industries early days.  From Pong style games at Radofin (more about this below) we went on to manufacture Intellivision for Mattel and then in the 90's I worked for Atari and was responsible for the manufacture of their Jaguar game console and cartridges.  And in between Intellivision and Atari we made the Aquarius Home Computer.  (Editors note - Laury Scott may also have been involved with Radica Games.  I intend to confirm that on our next call.)

Radofin the company

Radofin was owned 51% by an English public company (S. Leboff (Fobel) Ltd.) and 49% by my family.  During the video game era I ran the Manufacturing in Hong Kong (my title was originally Managing Director of Radofin Electronics (HK) Ltd and later evolved to MD and President as MD is a British title and some of the US clients did not understand that it is equivalent to a US CEO).

Radofin was one of a number of contract manufacturers in Hong Kong.   We build product for others.  It may have been our design, their design or some combination of the two.   Let me explain, we would design products and then sell them to consumer electronic importers in the US and Europe.  Other times we had clients bring us a finished design or finished product (being made in the US or Europe) and ask us to produce it (at a lower cost).  And there were other cases where a client brought us an idea and we designed products to spec.

Radofin's main products were designed by our own engineering team and then sold to customers around the world.  We had a number of competitors doing the same thing and so their games competed against ours in the marketplace.

We opened Radofin Hong Kong in 1974 to build hand held calculators.  Our main chip supplier was General Instruments and we built and sold a lot of calculators.  In 1976 (I think) GI came up with their video game chip and we ordered a lot.  Supply was limited and GI was behind in delivery (to everyone) from day 1.  Luckily as a large customer for their calculator chips we got a good allocation of the video game chips.  We called our game Tele-sports and it was one of the first GI based video game consoles.


1634169011958blob.thumb.jpg.64da5e3e6f16a569e70c60cdf1c02f42.jpg

We were the first ones to come up with the idea of the stick figure icons (which many of our competitors copied) and this game won the prestigious Hong Kong Governor's Award for Design.  We produced it in two versions - 4 games (as in the file photo above) and 6 games (added 2 target shooting games using a pistol).  We signed a royalty agreement with Magnavox as they held many early video game patents and sold this model mainly in Europe the first year.  There were a couple of reasons for this.  First, we already were selling calculators and audio products to European importers (mainly private labeled in their own brands) and so had a ready distribution channel.  Second, to sell in the US you would need FCC approval and while we did get it, it was not easy in the early days.  And so we were late in the year to be able to offer it.  And GI was not able to meet demand and we did not have the volume of chips to satisfy large US customers (importers or retailers).

1634170083464blob.jpg.e5d5f11f7c9a2bc29df8cf42678883ce.jpg

 

1634170140923blob.jpg.a8b6f1ffbc8891c265b0900763399a57.jpg

 

At the same time we were selling our games to Europe and Australia.  These are the ones I can remember off the top of my head
 
UK - Radofin Brand to Boots and Woolworths
        Prinztronic Brand to Dixons
        Acetronic Brand to Ace Electronics
 
Australia - Fountain (Probably New Zealand - Ed)
 
Holland - Audiosonic
 
France - Lansay
 
Germany - Radofin and Triton Brand to various importers
                Hanimex Brand to Hanimex (who sold across Europe and Australia)
                Interton Brand to Interton(e?) Electronics
 
I was told that we sold more games in the UK than Atari that year.
 
In 1977 (I think) we also manufactured the Odyssey 3000 for Magnavox.


1634174873585blob.jpg.cd05b5ba92a4c1704ad61a690d334e2e.jpg

 

I think it was 1978 - video game prices were falling dramatically so we designed a low end model which was sold into the US and Europe.

1634175152768blob.jpg.12ff58ab401efe8e4ce79c72e0a9b2f5.jpg

 

1292 and 2392
 

In 1978 we used the Signetics chipset to come up with a programable game (the 1292 and later the 2392).  The first cartridge we developed was a Space Invaders knock off.  Space Invaders was the hot game in Japan at that time and you found them in Arcades, coffee shops, etc.  I actually went to Japan and bought one of the game/coffee tables off of a coffee shop owner and shipped it back to HK where we reverse engineered it.  We had a virtually identical game to Taito's Space Invaders.

Like GI, Signetics  were not able to meet delivery commitments.  I know that they sold their chipset to a number of companies, both in Hong Kong and in Europe.

Philips/Signetics just offered their chipset to anyone wanting to buy it.  They developed a few game cartridges and we (the manufacturers) developed others.  As far as I remember the chips were branded Signetics not Philips.  (Philips had bought Signetics in 1975 - Ed)

(Sometimes Audiosonic is listed as the creator of the 1292 design.  I asked him about this. - Ed)
 
Audiosonic was the brand name of a Dutch Company (Electronics Niederland) and one of our customers (for audio, calculators and video games) and we private labeled games for them.  They were never a manufacturer as far as I know.


Mattel
 
And I am not sure if you are aware of it but we manufactured Intellivision for Mattel.    Because of our relationship with GI they recommended us to Mattel.
 
As a potential follow on to Intellivision we developed the Aquarius Home Computer.  Originally it was going to be sold world wide by Mattel but in 1983/4 (?) the banks pulled the plug.  Mattel was losing money and they were given the choice of (a) getting out of Electronics and (b) getting out of business.  They took the obvious choice.  Based on the share price at that time you could have bought Mattel for $???.  The following year Mattel made more profit from Barbie than you would have paid for the entire company (if you could have bought all the stock).

 

Hi @Knowledge

If you have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Scott again can you ask him about the 1292 video game project?
I would really like to know if Signetics was involved in the 1292 project and how it came about. From everything I've read, it's very strange that Interton released hardware very similar to Radofin's at the same time. There is only one link between the two: Signetics.

Regards

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For me, the fact that all those systems are software compatible, and that many games were developed in Taiwan, point to either Radofin or Soundic, both East Asian manufacturers for most European Pong systems, being involved.

I don't recall if Interton PCB bear a manufacturer seal or name, but they certainly look similar (same kind of cheap phenol PCB, same construction with loads of jumper wires all over a mostly empty PCB). Incidentally, those are also the type of PCB used for Pong consoles.

Interton Electronic Video Computer VC4000

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Acetronic-Mpu-1000-pcb.jpg/1280px-Acetronic-Mpu-1000-pcb.jpg?uselang=fr

 

They also use similar AC 9V and 15V power supplies (although to be fair it wasn't an uncommon choice back then)

 

I guess it would require to open and check how and who made the PCBs, which would point us to a manufacturer. (incidentally, it would also allow to have a database of manufacturing dates, as even the release date of those machines are unknow) Of course, because you make a design doesn't mean you designed it.

But being that Radofin (and Soundic) were know to provide systems and manufacture for others as well, make the link between all systems based on the Signetic chips to be based on the fact that none of the brands involved in those systems were "important".

 

Radofin was unknow outside of the UK, Interton was unknow outside of Germany.

All other brands involved were even smaller and all know to "relabed" product their didn't made.

 

It's really dubious that a company like Société Occitane d'Electronique, which popped out on the blue in the 70's and started to sell Pongs (manufactured by Soundic) would have the R&D to release their own system, even based on a set of existing chips. It's much more reasonnable to think that SOE licenced their system from Radofin/the original designer and just ordered a more fancy shell and carts. (also, being how their Pongs are rare today compared to others, it's not hard to think that they weren't a big company even on a national level BITD).

 

Edited by CatPix

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Hi, I don’t know if you intend to contact him again but if you do I would very much appreciate some information about some Aquarius items that haven’t been seen.

 

Specifically, I would be very interested in hearing about the release status of some Aquarius titles such as Lock N Chase, Reversi, Bump N Jump, and Sea Battle. It’s my guess that they were never released given that we haven’t seen them in all of the Aquarius’ 40 years, but some confirmation would be very appreciated. Any other info about the Aquarius in it’s end-of-life state that he is aware of would also be nice.

 

Thanks!

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