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Bill Loguidice's picture

Creator of the first Programmable Videogame Console, Jerry Lawson, Honored!

Fairchild VESFairchild VESBecause of the significance and its long overdue nature, I wanted to point out that videogame pioneer, Jerry Lawson, has recently been getting a lot of attention, including being honored today by the International Game Developers Association. Mike Cassidy of The Mercury News has a nice write-up of the details. Lawson, both a brilliant engineer and programmer, most famously created the first programmable videogame console - released in 1976 - the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (or VES, later repackaged as the Fairchild Channel F System II) - and many of its games. While little remembered today, the forward thinking VES design got a lot of things right, and some amazing homebrew games are still being made for the system today. I know it has a prized place in my own collection. Congrats, Jerry!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Video: Pac-Man (2009, Tim Ryan & Fredric Blaholtz) for the Fairchild VES/Channel F/System II

Since I had to pull my Fairchild console out anyway to capture some additional footage for the documentary, I thought I would take a moment to do something I've been meaning to do for some time. This is just a direct capture of the 2009 homebrew Pac-Man cartridge by Tim Ruan and Fredric Blaholtz for the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), which was the first ever programmable cartridge-based console, released all the way back in 1976. This was recorded off of my Fairchild Channel F System II, a later revision of the console that redirected the previously internal sound out to the TV to better match the feature set of later competing systems like the Atari 2600 VCS. Naturally, this game is an amazing achievement for a Fairchild system that has a library of fairly simple and blocky games. The occasional graphical glitchiness in various parts seems to be related to my system and/or my capture device, not necessarily the game itself.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Casual Photos: Fairchild/Zircon Channel F/VES Cartridges (1976+) and Typing Tutor III (1984, Macintosh)

Today's casual photos, again taken with the Panasonic digital camera, are Kriya Systems, Inc.'s Typing Tutor III (1984) from Simon & Schuster for the Apple Macintosh, and three cartridges for the first ever programmable videogame system (i.e., utilizing interchangeable cartridges), the 1976 Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), later known as the Fairchild Channel F after the release of the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) in 1977. In fact, after the name change, Fairchild would come to pull out of the market entirely and Zircon would assume rights to the platform, which limped its way into the bargain bins of the early 1980s.

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