Vectrex

One of my favorite old game consoles that I was just introduced to a couple of years ago is the Vectrex. It was a system developed by Western Technologies/Smith Engineering and used vecter graphics for the display on it’s self contained monitor.

The Vectrex hit the market in November of 1982 and sold for $199. It came with two controllers that were connected to the monochrome monitor and had one game built in. Minestorm was almost worth the purchase of the system alone. It was an asteroids like game. In order to display color you would place a colored sheet of plastic over the monitor that would change the color of the white lines depending on where it was on the screen.

There were two peripherals that were released for the system. One was a light pen and the other was a 3D imager. The light pen was plugged into the first controller port and for the games that supported it you would hold it one to two centimeters from the screen. It worked by sensing different intensities of light and when the correct one was found it would send a signal to the “fourth button” on the controller. You could use this to control a cross hair in that way.

The 3D Imager worked by spinning a disc in front of your eyes. One half of the disc was black and the other half was split into three sections of red, green and blue. If it was synced properly to the vectrex it would control the speed of the spinning and show different pictures to each of your eyes giving you a 3D image. It’s an extremely rare piece of technology and can sell for around $5000 in mint condition today.

The system was brought to Japanese gamers thanks to Bandai (seems to be a running theme with consoles this week). There were 28 official games available for purchase, but, it would ultimately fail in North America because it was released very shortly before the video game crash of 1983, but is still popular today among collectors. Some devoted fans are still creating games for it with new games being released every year.

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2 responses to “Vectrex

  1. very nice trivia game – zoozli

  2. I still have the unit my son received in the early 80s – with consoles/cartridges/monitor sheet….it still plays well.

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