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Dead medium: The Milton Bradley Vectrex
From: voyd@imperium.net (Patrick Lichty)
Source(s): Vectrex FAQ version 4.0 compiled by Gregg Woodcock "Vectrex 'Frequently Asked Questions' List! Created: 9/1/92
version 4.0 Copyright worldwide (c) 1992, 1996
Created and maintained by Gregg Woodcock (woodcock@bnr.ca)

"This file is copyrighted (c) 1996 by Gregg Woodcock but may be distributed in part or in whole by anyone for any purpose (commercial or otherwise) provided proper credit is given to me and the individual contributors. If you do use the FAQ, I would appreciate it if you send me a copy of whatever you are doing with it. Special thanks to Tom Sloper for correcting many mistakes and providing insightful explanations on several parts of earlier FAQ versions!

"Q. What is Vectrex?

"(..) Vectrex is one of the most inspired video game machines ever produced (but similar things were said about the Edsel and Titanic). Its point of distinction is the fact that it uses vector 'line' graphics (as opposed to raster 'pixel' graphics). This is the same type of screen used in such arcade classics as Space Wars, Asteroids, Battlezone and Tempest.

"The machine has a 9 x 11 inch black and white screen and comes with a built-in Asteroids clone called Minestorm. The games come with plastic overlays that slide over the screen to cut down on flicker and give some illusion of color. It uses one of the most advanced 8 bit processors, the 68A09 (6809 with 1.5MHz clock speed), and a popular and excellent sound chip, General Instruments AY-3-8192, which can produce a wide range of noises. Also included is a 1.5 inch, self-centering, joystick with 4 buttons on the right. It uses an analog/potentiometer system allowing differing degrees of directional input.

"The machine's footprint takes up a little less than a square foot on a desk (in fact, it quite resembles a jet black Macintosh SE sans mouse and keyboard), and can be operated easily in that area. The joystick is connected via a springy telephone-like cord and can be folded into the base of the machine for portability. The machine is moderately transportable and very well constructed but, alas, very much extinct.

"It made its debut late in 1982 and was quite scarce by the end of 1984 due to the Great Video Game Depression of '82 which forced Milton Bradley (who bought the rights to the Vectrex from General Consumer Electronics (GCE)) to discontinue production due to to poor sales. After this, the rights to the Vectrex and all related materials were returned to the original developers, Smith Engineering. Smith Engineering has graciously condoned the not-for- profit circulation of any duplicatable materials including games and manuals and is happy to see it is still 'alive' in certain circles.

(...)

"Accessories:

"Touch-Sensitive Screen (prototype known to exist)

"Computer Adapter with BASIC (prototypes rumored to exist)

"Computer Keyboard

"Printer

"Disk Driver/Wafer Tape Drive

"Modem

"Computer Software:

"Create Your Own Video Game

"Music Maestro

"Art Program in LOGO

"Basic Science

"Solar System

"Word Processing"

(...)

"Q. Isn't copying the games by burning EPROMs stealing or violating a copyright?

"If the system is 'dead' then no money is lost by making copies of something which otherwise would never be available. Even so, it is a fuzzy matter and technically the answer should probably be, 'YES.' Fortunately, Smith Engineering has given Usenetters permission to make copies of all Vectrex related materials (manuals, games, overlays, etc.) as long as it is for distribution to members of the group and as long as it is not for profit."

Patrick Lichty (voyd@imperium.net)