Archives for March 2018

Vacuum Fluorescent Emulation

Posted March 26, 2018

Joining Internet Archive’s Arcade collection in your browser–over 600 games and growing–they now have a handheld game section:

This collection of emulated handheld games, tabletop machines, and even board games stretch from the 1970s well into the 1990s. They are attempts to make portable, digital versions of the LCD, VFD and LED-based machines that sold, often cheaply, at toy stores and booths over the decades.

The effort involved in recreating these vacuum displays as vector art is a notable achievement indeed, even if it meant losing one of each along the way. A few that I remember:

  • Donkey Kong, Coleco, 1982
    I wanted one of these so bad! There was something about a miniature “replica” of a fancy, coin-operated box of mystery that mesmerized me. Even the joystick seemed cool. Looking at it now though I’m kinda glad we were poor.
  • Speak & Spell, Texas Instruments, 1979
    When I saw these in grade-school classrooms I could care less about spelling. I just wanted to hear its synthesized voice.
  • Simon, Milton Bradley, 1978
    Another iconic learning device that I’d only played with at friend’s houses. Notable for having been co-designed by Ralph Baer.
  • Merlin, Parker Brothers, 1978
    Finally, a game we had, though I rarely played, probably because I didn’t have the focus to read the manual.
  • Championship Football, Tandy, 1980
    I inherited this from my step-dad, but had zero interest in how football is played.