What was it like back then with the Vectrex?

In the magazine “Video Games” appeared 1993 to mark the 10th anniversary of the questions and answersVectrex a very well-written article. The former conditions, the bumpy rise and early demise of the Vectrex are therein clearly and correctly described in my view. An excerpt of the four-page article – better can I the life story of the Vectrex hardly tell.

Die Vectrex-Story Those: Video Games, Heft 10/1993

“[…] Beginning of the 80's the video games market has not yet mastered by the Japanese. Like most video game products of yesteryear, also had the Vectrex its origin in the US: Its history began in the late 1980 bei Western Technologies, a Californian research- and development company in the games sector, which even today with the game X-Men and the “Threaten”-Screen gun is successful for Sega Megadrive. Jay Smith, the CEO and his talented staff then had the idea for a small, Vertorgrafik-based to desktop unit with a 5-inch picture tube, that she “mini Arcade” named. This device should still look the same as the Vectrex, was him but already very similar to the functioning ago. In the spring 1981 this idea of ​​Kenner was offered, known for her toy dolls and figures to “Star Wars” and “Batman”. However, experts declined sales in July of the same year.

In late summer 1981 then found himself at last a licensee for the Vectrex concept: It was the head of GCE (General Consumers Electronics), Ed Krakauer, who recognized the great potential of the Vectrex system. GCE was enthusiastic about the characteristics of the Vectrex, but demanded, that the screen on 9 Tariff should be increased, the attractiveness to increase yet. In the months that followed worked hard at Western Technologies: According to the schedule, that the hardware along with the first twelve games by June 1982 should be completed. John Ross, Hardware Developers, the programmer of the system ROMs (Gerry Karr und John Hall) and the authors of the first three games had this particularly busy: Another problem was the programmer Paul Newell, Mark Indictor und John Hall, that at the beginning of the development changed the hardware permanently. It was initially a place of 6809 processor ultimately used 6502 scheduled (the same processor as in the NES and Lynx), but which turned out to be too slow.

Against all odds but the Vectrex on the Summer CES was in Chicago in June 1982 be presented to the public for the first time. Mass production began in late summer 1982 and GCE ensured, that the equipment in time for Christmas 1982 could stand on the gifts tables. The introductory price was around 200 Dollar. The media response was very positive: Scramble for example received in January 1983 in the most important American gaming magazine “Electronic Games” the coveted “Arcade Award” for the best “mini Arcade”-awarded game, a Category, which had been set up specifically for the Vectrex. In all other magazines of the Vectrex was enthusiastically, he was appointed as the “King of the Stand-Alones” designated. Even Playboy called him “fast, challenging and stimulating”. 1983 was the great year of the Vectrex: In Western Technologies and GCE many games have been programmed and you puttering interesting add-ons. At times, over 30 involved persons on Vectrex project. GCE also questioned some of the programmers, who had previously worked directly for Western Technologies, in a be. One of them, Mark Indictor, the author of Star Trek, Spinball, Polar Rescue and other programs, could move his family in the mountains near Los Angeles and write games in a pine forest in a hut. It emerged in the course of that year, even the light pen and the 3D glasses. Even on a color version of the Vectrex and a computer keyboard with BASIC module was worked, for series production, however, came neither.

In the spring 1983 GCE was of MB (Milton Bradley), Known by Brett- and board games, accepted. In the course of the Vectrex arrived in the summer of that year finally to Germany and the rest of Western Europe. At the same time here appeared all hitherto existing in the USA Games, as an accessory but only the second controller was available initially. Unfortunately, the Vectrex at this late date did not meet with resounding success with us anymore — despite his acclaimed from all sides skills: The market was in the grips of (then) Video game giant Atari with its VCS 2600. Mattel Intellivision and the CBS Colecovision were already established. The most important reason, however, was the invasion of the Home Computer — with us especially the VC20 and C64 Commodore, which provided also on the video games sector for tremendous changes. In the technically many videogames superior home computers were not only high quality games (on the playground “exchanged” could become). Also the possibility, even (Game-) to write programs, was then “in”. So it was no surprise, that the Vectrex despite massive advertising campaigns by MB during the Christmas shopping season 1983 was able to record an encouraging success neither in the US nor in Europe. The Vectrex was not the only one affected by the Home Computer Syndrome Videogames System, but such a setback shortly after launch could bode ill. In the spring 1984 Although we could not find the latest games (Pole Position, Polar Rescue, Star Castle) shown and the light pen with its programs on the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The 3D imager, introduced in the US at the Winter CES '84 in Las Vegas and already announced in Germany in brochures of MB, managed not to cross the Atlantic.

The end of the Vectrex

As part of the acquisitions of MB by Hasbro Inc., one of the most important companies on the American toy market, was the production of the Vectrex beginning 1984 adjusted slowly. middle of March 1984 Then came the bad news from MB Germany in Fürth, that the sale of the Vectrex to 31. March would be terminated. The rest was a sad chapter of garage sales, mainly in the department stores of the Metro chain. An unworthy death for such a video game veterans. Western Technologies tried but 1988 to resurrect the Vectrex again — as handheld. It should be equipped with a flat picture tube of Sinclair, consumed the little power, enabling fast image updates should. Unfortunately, this idea was abandoned, as the overwhelming success of Nintendo Game Boy loomed. Even today there are in the US and Europe a little, but brave group of active Vectrex fans, which the memory of the “good old days of video games” keep warm and be in lively communication. Last but not least the extraordinary vector of Vectrex today still invites, in the age of 16 bit consoles and games megabit, too entertaining video games. […]”


2 thoughts on “What was it like back then with the Vectrex?

  1. Thanks for the article! Has not changed much “Even today there are in the US and Europe a little, but brave group of active Vectrex fans, the memories of the "good old days of video games" keep warm and are in animated communication.” 🙂

    • And, correct, much has changed in the 20 not years. Opposite to 1993 should have become smaller again the crowd of fans, however Vectrex. We move now halt all closer together, then we's still warm and cozy. 😉

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