Entertainment Earth

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Retro Gaming Nerds Presents - The Vectrex

Conceived by John Ross in 1980. Released by GCE in 1982 on through 1983, and then by Milton Bradley from 1983 to 1984. The Vectrex was the first and only console released for home gaming that relied entirely on vector graphics.

Using a monochrome screen that was 9 inches tall, the Vectrex produced some of the best graphics at the time, especially when other consoles of the times relied on raster graphics, sprites, and similar. The vector graphics were also a drawback considering non-vector based arcade games would not find a faithful translation to the unit.

In order to produce additional "graphics" beyond just the black and white vector graphics, the games came with overlays that the player would attach to the console screen. This was not unlike the Magnavox Odyssey concept.

One of the more interesting peripherals for the Vectrex is the 3D glasses. These glasses work on the same principle found in many modern 3D glasses used on televisions, and in theaters. These glasses were invented by John Ross.

Since the mid-90's, then head of Smith Engineering, Jay Smith released the Vectrex product line to public domain. In doing so, the system has seen a surge in popularity with homebrew games and emulators seeing strong, and regular support. One such emulator that is very popular is ParaJVE.

A new version of the Vectrex was planned for a late 80's release as a handheld unit, but was ultimately shelved due to the impending release of the Game Boy.

The Vectrex was an intriguing machine, but did not sell very well. Because of its low sales number, it is exceptionally rare. One can find working consoles on eBay for upwards of $300. This is definitely the diamond of any collection.

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