Secret Weapons of Commodore - the TV Game

The TV Game 2000K, 3000H

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Coleco Telstar Arcade (from

Views of the TV Game 2000K (.gif, courtesy Bo Zimmerman)
Portrait (64K) | Portrait with Screen Shot (52K) | Box (54K)

Views of the TV Game 3000H (.jpg, courtesy Lee Jones)
Console (49K) | Console Closeup (55K) | Console with Paddle (81K)

Screenshots of the TV Game 3000H (.jpg, courtesy Lee Jones)
Squash Game (30K) | Tennis Game: He shoots (20K), he scores! (32K)

TV Game 3000H with Light Gun (49K, .jpg, courtesy Lee Rayner)

Introduced Based on Commodore's MOS acquisition, the appearance of the Telstar Arcade and Pong's twilight, the TV Game series most likely appeared around 1976.
Hardware A version of the MOS Technologies ("MPS") 7600 (NTSC) or 7601 (PAL) microcontroller with a 512-word internal ROM, unlike other 'Pong-on-a-chip' designs such as the AY-3500 (see below for an explanation of their architecture; virtually all TV Games are probably -7601-001). Two paddles (an unusual slide variety on the 3000H), one internal and one connected by wire (four in the 2000K, two internal); 9VDC or battery power (6 AA batteries required); 5-pin DIN port for light gun or two additional paddles (two ports on 2000K).
Graphics and Sound Plays Pong, can't be that good. PAL (thus 7601). The manual states there should be different background colours for each game but Lee Jones and Gareth Young both say all games come up with a black background on theirs. Orange 'boundaries' and light blue bats, according to Gareth (unfortunately not easily visible on these screen shots); single channel sound through built-in speaker.
Eventual Fate Released in Europe, but unfortunately at the same time as the other approximately 80 manufacturers who made the late 70's rash of early me-too Pong clones. Unknown market sales or length of existence, but probably perished in the mass carnage following the appearance of the Atari 2600 VCS.

The TV Game series were unabashed Pong-clones which played one of four games (one target game, target, and three Pong games, football (soccer to us Yanks), tennis and squash) with up to four players at two skill settings. The machines were labeled in both English and German. The 2000K is essentially identical to the 3000H except for the additional port and a black plastic case, and all of the 2000K's controllers are separated (one of the 3000H's is built-in); the 3000H is a cream-coloured unit with brown bottom and control panel (Lee Jones states that the case is 15.5 cm x 18.5 cm x 4.5 cm), with the slide paddles.

Gareth Young was kind enough to give me a complete description of his 3000H unit. His device has a silver label stating "Commodore TV Game 3000H" followed by red, green and blue rectangles. Inside is the 0.3 watt speaker and a brown circuit board with three unmarked ICs and a larger IC covered with a heat sink ("M5601-136"), plus the normal complement of standard analogue components. (As previously mentioned, Bo Zimmerman's unit has slightly better documented electronics, but they are not the same as Gareth's; his only labelled chip is the MOS 7601.) The controllers are cream-coloured, matching the console, and have no fire button.

Lee was even more detailed with the scoop on his unit. When turning his 3000H (his particular unit has a black base "Made in Hong Kong") on, the machine beeps briefly and launches the game selected by the switch on the front panel. There are multiple controls on the console: the power switch, the game selector, "Serve/Einwurf", "Reset/Ruckstellung", "Serve/Balleinwurf" (Manual or Auto selector), "Speed Handicap/Geschwindigkeit" (Amateur or Pro), "Option Selector/Auswahl" (Moving/Skeet for target game or 1-4/2 players), and the internal paddle.

Yet another Lee, Lee Rayner is so far the only person I know to actually possess the light rifle. It is still not known if it came with the original machine, or was an optional add-on.

Thanks to several articles forwarded to me by Lee Rayner, the architecture of the TV Game systems is finally revealed. The actual core is the MOS Technologies "MPS" 7600 (or 7601), yet another iteration of the ubiquitous 'Pong-on-a-chip' primitive game CPUs that emerged in the late 1970s in competition with General Instruments, National Semiconductors and even Commodore's old arch enemy Texas Instruments; the 7600/1 was the last of MOS's Pong-chip line, which started with the 5601. However, innovation was what set the 7600 and 7601 apart: unlike most other Pong devices that had the game hard-coded into the system's logic, the 7600/1s were actually true if crude microprocessors that read game instructions from a special 512-word (mask?) ROM which appears to be internal to the chip.

The catch, however, is that graphics and sound are also generated directly by the 7600/1 and are hardwired into the chip logic, meaning that special variants had to be created if a special display was required for an arbitrary application. Thus, the 7601-001 in the TV Game series, while being programmable in a crude sense, is hardwired to generate the graphics for the TV Game series' internal games only and cannot be coerced into drawing other kinds of shapes. This distinction is important because the MOS 7600/1's application was not just in the TV Game series but also in the Coleco Telstar Arcade, released in the United States in 1977, where it lurked in its plug-in cartridges and was Coleco's attempt to distinguish itself from the me-too Pong craze. Coleco's Telstar is an unusual triangular console with a light gun, driving controller, and knob panels on each of the three legs of the triangle. The Telstar's multi-game cartridges also have the same triangular form factor and drop in the top of the unit; one came with the machine, and three others were eventually released. Inside each Telstar cartridge is an NTSC MOS 7600, each localized for its particular graphics requirements. Variant -002, for example, is in Telstar Arcade cartridge #1 and plays "road race, tennis and quick draw" while cartridge #2 contains "hockey, tennis, handball and target [practise]," and because this sounds suspiciously like the games in the TV Game, this probably contains the same TVG variant -001. Cartridge #3 contains "bonus pinball, shooting gallery, shoot the bear and deluxe pinball" and cartridge #4 contains "naval battle, speed ball and blast away." It is unclear which 7600 variant is in these other two cartridges, although there appear to be only four 7600 variants known. The internals of cartridge #1 on David Winter's site above show a 7600-002 with a fabrication date of 25th week 1977; this coincides well with an expected release of the TV Game systems somewhere around 1976, assuming that Commodore released the first commercial application of these chips (seems logical as the MOS acquisition had been consummated completely by this time).