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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Retro Gaming Nerds Presents - The Fairchild Channel F


Released in November 1976, the Fairchild Channel F was the first home videogame console that had interchangeable cartridges, and a microprocessor.  Originally released as the VES (Video Entertainment System), the system later changed its name to the Channel F due to the Atari VCS (2600) released in 1977.  Overall, a total of 250,000 units were sold.

The console was an 8-bit unit much in the same vain as the Atari VCS/2600 unit of the time.  The console graphics were not much different in comparison to that of the competing Atari console.  Audio was also not up to snuff.  It was able to provide the necessities, but beyond that you didn't get much else.

The overall reception for the unit was low.  Again, with a total of 250,000 units sold in its lifetime, that is a significantly low number, especially when the unit went for roughly $169.99.  Games were generally considered "Average" with a couple notable exceptions, but nothing one couldn't find on competing hardware.  A lack of exclusive arcade ports was what drove the nail home on this consoles coffin.

The controllers for the unit are hardwired to the console.  This means one could not use accessories, or peripherals.  However, the controllers were an "all in one" style design.  There was no base, but the controls were designed like a grip where the knob on the top had 8 direction motion, twisting motion for driving games, and the "fire" feature was pressing in, or pulling up.  It has simplicity, but it didn't offer the level of control many gamers enjoyed with twitch style game play seen in many popular arcade titles.

The Fairchild Channel F was merely a footnote in the history of videogames, as it's only imprint on the market was to push Atari's hand into pushing the Atari VCS (2600) to market quickly.  Aside from that, nothing more came about of the Channel F console.  For anyone looking to add one of these to their collection may be happy to know that the units are relatively inexpensive due to lack of nostalgic love.

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