[RetroConsole] When Europe shifted into 2nd: 1292 Advanced Programmable System


radofin-logo

I ❤ Old Games never stops and in the spirit of my old consoles revival and taking the opportunity of an important anniversary, the 40th, today I’m proud to present a console with one of longest and less appealing name in history: 1292 Advanced Programmable System. The release date is sometime in the last part of ’76. After my neverending efforts to find a precise date for the release in american, english and even german websites, I found a semi-obscure article stating that the console was on the marked in September; ironically the article was in italian (sometimes italians still do it better…if the infos are correct)

The story in a nutshell

The late 70’s were the years in which was reached the peak of the production of the consoles of the first generation, commonly known as “PONG clones”. The 99% of the production and a large part of the market was based in North America, especially U.S.A., while in Europe the big shares of the market were limited to U.K. with some crumbles in Germany and France (in Italy almost nothing).

Being the most advanced country in the console development market, in the U.S. the 1st generation started to be outdated when Fairchild Channel F was released in August: it was a cartridge based machine and was only the first of a large group of 2nd generation consoles.

In Europe, a german based company, Radofin, seized the moment and in the end of 1976 decided to put on the market a console based on the same philosophy but with a name even more horrible , cacophonous and less appealing than its american counterpart. The system originated from the Intertron VC4000, made in 1974 but commercialized only in 1978, after the release of 1292.

interton-vc-4000
Interton VC-4000

1292 Advanced Programmable System hit the market between 1976 and 1977 and was quickly licensed outside Germany to a lot of different companies. Some of them, like Hanimex, Fountain, Grandstand and Audiosonic didn’t change the original name, while others decided to change the model name to another a bit more catchy.

For example Acetronic produced the MPU-1000, Prinztronic the VC6000 and the Tournament. Most of them after the re-branding changed completely the spae and the color so at first sight could be hard to tell that so many different consoles actually shared the same heart.

acetronic-mpu-1000
Acetronic MPU-1000

There are no precise news on how long these consoles laid on the shelves of european retailers but some of the latest licensed products (the Acetronic ones) were on sale in 1979 so we can assume that from the beginning of the 80’s the 1292 era was over. To give an idea, one of the 1292 compatible consoles, the VC-4000, was discontinued in 1983.

The heart

The 1292 was an early 8-bit console with a Signetics 2650 microprocessor, originally built in 1975, which had a good success among the amateurs and in Australia, mainly for its low price (around 20$). The clock frequency was 4.43 MHz.

signetics-2650

The hands

The controllers of the 1292 were the Intellivision style “phones” but three years before the launch of the Mattel console itseld. For this reason 1292 can be considered one of the earliest machines to use this kind of controller, along with some of the models of the Coleco Telstar.

1292-advanced-programmable-system-controller

The main difference with the Intellivision is the presence of a knob as it was a proper joystick and not the spinning pad. Beside the 2-axis joystich there were 12 buttons + 2 additional (the red ones). The controllers were hard wired to the machine, so in case of damage the substitution coud have been difficult (this was one of the reason why Mattel, after the success of the Intellisvision, planned to restyle it with detachable controllers).

The eyes

This console worked with two chips: the first one, the main one, was the Signetics 2650, then there was the 2636 Programmable Video Interface @ 3.58 MHz, responsible of the video signal. If you consider the era (we were in the late 70’s) the graphics were incredibly good, in some games comparable or, in my opinion, even better than the hyper praised Atari VCS (yesh, the 2600). Have a look for example to the game “Golf”:

The 1292 can display up to 4 single color sprites (each one can can be one of the 8 different colors available).

The games

According to the remerkable source Dale Hansen from consoledatabase.com, The 1292 featured 34 games, Radofin labeled, boxed like this:

1292-advanced-programmable-system-cartridge-2

Since this console had a large cross compatibility with all licensed machines build all around the world it’s possible to find games with different labels (e.g Fountain and Acetronic) thar run on the 1292. Here’s the list:

  • #3001 Pro Sport 60
  • #3002 Autosports 10
  • #3003 Blackjack
  • #3004 Tank/Plane Battle
  • #3005 Air/Sea Attack
  • #3006 Shooting Gallery
  • #3007 Basic Math
  • #3008 Math 2
  • #3009 Computer Challenge
  • #3010 Code Breaker
  • #3011 Super Maze
  • #3012 Horse Racing
  • #3013 Circus
  • #3014 Prizefight
  • #3015 Soccer
  • #3016 Hobby Module
  • #3017 Follow the Leader/Electronic Music
  • #3018 Treasure Hunt
  • #3019 Golf
  • #3020 Head On
  • #3021 Draughts
  • #3022 Spiders Web
  • #3023 Chess
  • #3024 Othello
  • #3025 Electronic Pinball
  • #3026 Super Knockout
  • #3027 Invaders
  • #3028 Bowling
  • #3029 Shoot Out
  • #3030 Space Attack
  • #3031 Laser Attack
  • #3032 Backgammon
  • #3033 Planet Defender
  • #3034 Sea Wolf

Two games were sold together with the console, Olympics and Indavers and, for obvious reasons, the’re nowadays the easiest to find. There was a urban legend saying that the games of Emerson Arcadia 2001 could run on the 1292 for the similarities in the architecture: nothing more than a legend, busted several years later. The cconsole cartridge was a 32-pins one (16 pins on each side), made like this:

1292-advanced-programmable-system-cartridge

The legacy

After 1292 that had and exterior power pack, Radofin produced the 1392 where the alimentation was together with the console. A plethora of consoles were produced exploiting the Radofin license. Today we can count more than 20 machines divided in 6 different sub-groups, each one based on the Signetics 2650 chip.

lansay-1392
Lansay 1392

The consoles in every sub-group are compatible with each other and there are cases of cross compatibility among different sub-groups. Here’s a scheme I made using the different datas found online (click on the image to enlarge):

2650-legacy

See you guys!

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Great article! I enjoy learning about the history of game consoles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      Thanks! I got a lot of posts about old consoles already scheduled for the next months! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yay! I can’t wait to read them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mill says:

    Man, this thing is ugly.
    I NEED IT NOW!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      Isn’t even the ugliest!!! By the way I found some of this old machines at a resonable prices on eBay. When people talk about retrogaming they mainly focuses on the third-fourth generation (8-bit and beyond) so almost nobody is interested in this old stuff and the prices are cheap. Good to know for a collector…

      Like

  3. Wow, I’ve never even heard of this system before! Great article! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      Unfortunately there are a lot of hidden and forgotten consoles. I thought to give them 15 deserved minutes of belated fame…:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a really great idea! Can’t wait to hear about more of them! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. benez256 says:

        For very old consoles it’s always difficult. To write a post There’s to look everywhere online. Unfortunately

        Liked by 1 person

  4. benez256 says:

    Unfortunately there are just a few informations…

    Like

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