fairchild

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Creator of the first Programmable Videogame Console, Jerry Lawson, Honored!

Fairchild VESFairchild VESBecause of the significance and its long overdue nature, I wanted to point out that videogame pioneer, Jerry Lawson, has recently been getting a lot of attention, including being honored today by the International Game Developers Association. Mike Cassidy of The Mercury News has a nice write-up of the details. Lawson, both a brilliant engineer and programmer, most famously created the first programmable videogame console - released in 1976 - the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (or VES, later repackaged as the Fairchild Channel F System II) - and many of its games. While little remembered today, the forward thinking VES design got a lot of things right, and some amazing homebrew games are still being made for the system today. I know it has a prized place in my own collection. Congrats, Jerry!

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Video: Pac-Man (2009, Tim Ryan & Fredric Blaholtz) for the Fairchild VES/Channel F/System II

Since I had to pull my Fairchild console out anyway to capture some additional footage for the documentary, I thought I would take a moment to do something I've been meaning to do for some time. This is just a direct capture of the 2009 homebrew Pac-Man cartridge by Tim Ruan and Fredric Blaholtz for the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), which was the first ever programmable cartridge-based console, released all the way back in 1976. This was recorded off of my Fairchild Channel F System II, a later revision of the console that redirected the previously internal sound out to the TV to better match the feature set of later competing systems like the Atari 2600 VCS. Naturally, this game is an amazing achievement for a Fairchild system that has a library of fairly simple and blocky games. The occasional graphical glitchiness in various parts seems to be related to my system and/or my capture device, not necessarily the game itself.

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Casual Photos: Fairchild/Zircon Channel F/VES Cartridges (1976+) and Typing Tutor III (1984, Macintosh)

Today's casual photos, again taken with the Panasonic digital camera, are Kriya Systems, Inc.'s Typing Tutor III (1984) from Simon & Schuster for the Apple Macintosh, and three cartridges for the first ever programmable videogame system (i.e., utilizing interchangeable cartridges), the 1976 Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), later known as the Fairchild Channel F after the release of the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) in 1977. In fact, after the name change, Fairchild would come to pull out of the market entirely and Zircon would assume rights to the platform, which limped its way into the bargain bins of the early 1980s.

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Quick Snaps of the New Fairchild VES/Channel F Pac-Man Homebrew and the Skunk Board for the Atari Jaguar

More quick iPhone photos of new collection additions, this time the amazing new homebrew cartridge for the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES)/Channel F, Pac-Man, with an impressive flip-top cartridge shell design, and the Skunk Board (Skunkboard) for the Atari Jaguar, which is a USB-based Jaguar development board containing flash memory as well as the ability to upload to Jaguar RAM. At some point the full color box and manual for the Pac-Man cartridge will also arrive and I'll do a full video review of that and the Pac-Man Collection for the ColecoVision, each of which is stunning in their own right and would have set the world on fire if they were released when these systems were still new.

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Photo of the Week - Know your History! (03 - VideoBrain Family Computer Model 101 (1977))

EDIT: Check out all of the VideoBrain-related topics on Armchair Arcade here - http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/taxonomy/term/1135

Welcome to the third of the ongoing series of exclusive photos here at Armchair Arcade from my private collection, the VideoBrain Family Computer Model 101 from 1977. The system pictured has its cartridge door raised up with the Wordwise 1 ED03 cartridge inserted. The next step would be to push the cartridge door down, making it flush with the system. The button just below would raise the lid again, i.e., eject the cartridge. One of the two single button joysticks that doesn't self center is plugged in. The underbelly of the Music Teacher 1 ED01 cartridge is displayed to the left of the system. Everything else pictured should be self explanatory with this delightfully well-maintained example of this particular computer model.

The photo's main page.
The full-size image.

Without further ado, here are some neat facts about this week's photo (feedback welcome!):

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History of Console Prices - The good-old days weren't that much different

Data like this has been supplied by others before, but this is a particularly impressive charting of select console system prices over the years from the first programmable videogame system, the 1976 Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES, later Channel F), to the latest to release pricing data, the 2006 Sony PlayStation 3. What I like about this is that two charts are supplied, one for the absolute retail prices and one for the inflation-adjusted prices. As I've argued elsewhere, while paying $60 for a game stinks, relatively speaking we've been paying that and more for countless years. Same thing with modern consoles. While it's a difficult pill to swallow a $600 PlayStation 3 (my recommendation is don't even look at the crippled $500 model), relatively speaking it's not so bad, particularly since it pulls additional duties as a hi-def media center.

Click here for the original post on "Curmudgeon Gamer" and the links to the two separate PDF files.

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