Retro Computers - Vectrex - Classic Arcade Machine

MB Vectrex
This classic arcade console is something a little different from most other gaming platforms - especially those of the 8-bit generation.

The Vectrex was an 8-bit video game console that was developed by Western Technologies/Smith Engineering.

It was licensed and distributed first by General Consumer Electric (GCE), and then by Milton Bradley Company (MB) after they bought over GCE. The machine was released in November of 1982 at a retail price of (US) $199.

As MB took over international marketing of the console the price dropped to $150 and then $100 shortly before the famous video game crash of 1983.

The Vectrex basically ended it's run in early 1984 just as home computers (such as the C64) began to take over.

Unlike other non-portable video game consoles which connected to televisions and rendered 'raster' graphics, the Vectrex had an integrated vector monitor which displayed vector graphics (hence the name 'Vectrex').

Just like early Space Invader machines the Vectrex was a monochrome displaye and used plastic screen overlays to generate colour and other static graphics.

At the time many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and the Vectrex was looking to set itself apart from the rest of the pack by selling high-quality and playable versions of classic games such as Space Wars and Armor Attack.

Vectrex also had a preloaded arcade game installed which was an Asteroids style shooter called Minestorm.

The Vectrex was also part of the first generation of console game systems to feature a boot screen, along with the Atari 5200 and Colecovision.

Vectrex Classic Gaming
The Vectrex was the first gaming system ever to offer a 3D peripheral (the Vectrex 3D Imager).

The 3-D imager spun a disk (which was banded half coloured/black) that radiated between the viewer's eyes and the screen. Spinning the disk at high speeds created the impression of 3-D and colour - I'm not sure exactly how it worked though!

It should be noted that early units had a very audible buzzing noise from the built-in speaker that altered in pitch as graphics were drawn on screen. This was due to a lack of shielding between the CRT and the speaker wiring. This was eventually resolved in later models.

A light pen (remeber those?) was also available for the Vectrex.

Vectrex Games
Some of the Vectrex's games feature unusual qualities or innovations due to the (at the time) advanced graphical nature of the games. New games are still being produced today by homebrew video game programmers - which is brilliant!

The game built into the Vectrex, (Minestorm), would (on some versions - depending on the machine) crash once you reached level 13.

In some cases strange graphics and behaviour would occur on later levels - in any case the the game was bugged to a degree.

MineStorm II was put out which was actually a fixed version of the same video game. Because this game was not advertised it make it one of the rarest cartridges for the Vectrex system.

Nowadays the Vectrex is (rightly) regarded as a pioneering video game system, and good condition units are worth a lot of money. Rare games and units are traded on Ebay - and fully boxed units are extremely valuable.

Retro Computers and Classic Games is what we are all about...


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