To say that technology has changed in the last 20-30 years is really nothing short of an understatement. Those of us who remember rotary phones and three television channels, frequently receive blank stares and down-turned mouths when we refer to those things in the presence of our younger co-workers. It is important to remember that it was right about the time of Tron, and the advent of cable-tv, that computer technology really started to become mainstream. Remembering these things is more than just entertainment, it is also a useful reminder about how far we've come technologically, and maybe a good sounding board to ask ourselves how this has affected us as a society. - But I digress. I love the nostalgia of old games, mainly because they were the mainstream manifestations of major technological advancements. I asked to do a series on vintage handheld games, and our intrepid editor came across a website that had them all. It was called Handheld Museum and is maintained soley by a man we know as Rik M. There seem to be thousands of different handheld games on the page from the 70's on. Instead of a series, we decided to do a single large gallery that highlighted a number of the handhelds. All of the images are taken from Riks site and 90 percent the captions too. I have put my own comments in at the end, preceded by "**". Some of the games have more pictures on the website with boxes and some instruction manuals, even movie clips from when the games appeared in movies. If you want to find more info or pictures of a particular item, Rik has the items nicely cataloged by manufacturer, by item title. I sorted the gallery here in this order:1 - watch games2 - Sports games3 - All of the others I tried to keep similar genres together as well. I found that the watch games had a lot of sales images for the Sears catalogs and the like. The Sears catalog, kiddies, was all we had for browsing "back in the day".
So without any additional delay - we give you - The Handheld Museum: A tribute to the early history of Handheld gaming.
Be sure to visit Riks site when you are done here.
Alba Baseball (19??, LCD, Watch batteries, Model
Imado Clown - QBert at arms length
Imado Clown (19??, LCD, Watch Batteries, Model# ??) Battery type: LR41 (or equivalent) Obviously it's Q*Bert (and I believe it's Neslonic's Q*Bert watch just re-labeled, but I'm not sure if it's an official license or a 'bootleg'). Cresta released a handheld Clown game that is exactly the same thing (even the same characters and text font).
** Have a look at the "real" Q-Bert watch under Nelsonic and Q-bert - it does not list it as a watch game, though it is indeed.
**Looks like this - something - Monira - catches apples?
Casio Game 401- OR Pyramid of triangles?
Casio Game 401 (19??, LCD, Watch Batteries, Model# GM-401)
** Don't have any idea what this game is, but it intrigues me...
The Casio Game301- Depth Charge!
Casio Game 301 (19??, LCD, Watch Batteries, Model# GM-301) This is similar to Game 10 and Game 20, but it's vertical instead of horizontal. It's a submarine/battleship game. This is the same game as Game-30 but in a steel case.
** Another in the series of Casio games. I like this one - kind of a battleship/depth-charge type of game.
** This one might have benefited from a joystick, but very cool nonetheless.
Casio CA-90 -- The Geek Standard
Casio CA-90 (19xx, LCD, Watch Batteries, Model# CA-90) Calculator watch that also features a game... From what I'm told, not a very exciting game though. I believe it's something along these lines: a number will scroll across the screen, and you have to press that number on the keypad.
** Any dork worth his/her salt had one of these.
Armitron Saturn1 - Fit for the Sears catalog
Armitron Saturn I Watch (19??, LCD, Watch Battery, Model# ??)
** Not too many Armitron watch games on the website. I know that Armitron was a fairly well-known cheapie watch maker ( and still is ?), but they must not have made many games, as I'm sure that HandheldMuseum would have it if it was made.
Mattel Classic Football - The handheld Alpha Dog
Mattel's Football (I) (1977, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2024) U. S. Patent # 4,162,792 (game) and 4,344,622 (display technology) Invented by: George Klose and Richard Chang (according to the patent) Programmed by: Mark Lesser View Manual / View 1st Football game, plated in 24k gold!
Football was released in 1977. It was labelled either Football or Football I depending on the date the game was released. I guess Mattel continued to make (or at least ship remaining stock of) the original Football even after Football 2 came out, thus the change to the game's title. Both the game and the box reflect the addition of the roman numeral I (and the box for Football I is smaller than the original as the game is packed in a plastic bubble-wrap bag instead of the styrofoam blocks). The font style used on the pre-I version is also different. Also, early models of Football had an AC Adapter jack which was removed on later models (which would only run on batteries). (I recently found an interesting variation on this game: A Football that I recently received (that just says Football, older version), has little round blips instead of the tiny horizontal lines that usually make up the blips on these games. Never seen one like that before. I've been told by a Mattel employee that these diodes where never changed in production, so this must be a foreign market version to have the different diodes. It also has a slightly different sticker on the back: the 'Try Fresh batteries' text is written in a black bar on the sticker, not just normal text like most of the Football games.)
A little game history: This was released in June of 1977 as the second game released by Mattel (Auto Race was the first) and sold through Sears. After less than 100,000 were made, Sears (using a computer model based on initial sales figures) determined that the games would not be big sellers, and most of the production for Football and Auto Race was stopped. Within 6 months, it became obvious to Sears that their prediction was wrong, and production was started up again and reached previously unknown levels! (Reaching as many as 500,000 units a week by mid-February, 1978). Check out the Mattel trivia section for several more interesting stories about this and other Mattel games (like why the playing field only has 9 yards... :) Thanks to Howard Cohen (ex-Mattel employee) for these great stories!
This game wins my vote for most cloned/pirated of the handheld games. :) They even cloned it themselves! Mattel has done a re-release of this game recently (Dec, 2000), check out Classic Football! And now they've released a tiny Football Keychain version of it! (April, 2001).
Coleco Electronic Quarterback - Beta Dog
Coleco Electronic Quarterback (1978, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2020) U. S. Patent #s 4,249,735 (game) and 4,327,915 (display) Invented by: Eric Bromley (according to the patent) View Manual
There appears to be some color variations here- 1st one is 'normal,' 2nd one has black directional buttons (I suspect the overlay sticker is just faded, that would explaind the light blue and white word 'Electronic,' but maybe it was printed this way), the third one has yet another color of buttons, as well as featuring the newer Coleco logo (I think that was the newer one...) THe first version also changed in that the earliest models ((C) 1978 on the box) have an A/C adapter port on the top of the game, later models ((C) 1980 on the box) no longer have this. Also licensed to Sears as Electronic Touchdown.
Electronic Quarterback has been found in Disney's movie 'Tron.' When they are at Flynn's arcade in his apartment, he picks it up and starts playing it for a few seconds. You never see the front of the game, but it's obvious what it is... :) See screen shot at bottom of page.
** Though I call this "Beta Dog" I remember a lot of kids had this.
Coleco H2H Football
Coleco Head to Head Footall (1980, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2140) U. S. Patent # 4,249,734 Invented by: Eric Bromley (according to the patent) View Manual Also licensed to Sears as Team Play Football. At least 5 different variations are known for this game. They all have the same body style, but have differences in colors (sometimes on buttons) or locations of words. There's is a 6th type in a different body, but this is technically Soccer (U.S. Soccer), it's just the European release, thus it's called Football (last picture).
** Personally, I never liked this game. I didn't like "sharing" the game. Looking back, it seems counter-intuitive to have kids share control of a single unit, but that is what technology gave us then. Two units, connected by a 10' cable would have been better (with quick release, as we know the cable would have been brokenmany times over). I wonder if that was ever tested durig design...?
Coleco H2H Baseball
Coleco Head to Head Baseball (1982, LED/VFD, 2 9 Volts, Model# 2180) U. S. Patent # 4,381,864 Invented by: Eric Bromley and Thomas Helmer (according to the patent) View Manual
** Never playedt his, but did see it around. I feel the same way about this as I do about H2H football...
Mattel's Baseball (1978, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2942) U. S. Patent # 4,324,402 Invented by: George Klose (according to the patent) Programmed by: Mark Lesser View Manual
Baseball was released in two different box styles: The older (original) box was significantly larger than the second (smaller) version, and had a large flap that folded out from the left side of the box. The large version had the game packed in styrofoam blocks, where the smaller version had the game packed in a plastic bubble-wrap bag. (Several of Mattel's earlier handhelds went through this change.)
Mattel's Basketball (1978, LED, 9 Volt, Model# 2437) U. S. Design Patent # D261,402 (patent on the look of the game housing) View Manual / View the 1,000,000the Basketball, plated in 24k gold!
Basketball was released in two different box styles: The older (original) box was significantly larger than the second (smaller) version, and had a large flap that folded out from the left side of the box. The large version had the game packed in styrofoam blocks, where the smaller version had the game packed in a plastic bubble-wrap bag. (Several of Mattel's earlier handhelds went through this change.) An original price: $31.99 (dated Oct 9th, 1980) Mattel has recently re-released this game as Classic Basketball, and they've added a 3-point shot!
** I'm not sure if this one ever really took off...