Make-It-Yourself magasine projects
If some manufacturers were selling
PONG systems in kit form like the Videomaster Superscore or
the system proposed by Logic Leisure Ltd, hobbyist
magazines published some articles allowing to build various game systems.
The less interesting ones describe a system
designed with a dedicated chip like the AY-3-8500.
The most interesting ones describe analog or digital systems designed with discrete components,
and are generally interesting to understand how a simple PONG game can be made
without sophisticated components.
Click the covers for more details about each article.
|Popular Electronics, november 1972 (USA).
The earliest video game construction article known to exist. This simple game was clearly inspired from one of the Magnavox Odyssey games (released to the public in May 1972). This game is also very similar to the Chase Game invented by Ralph Baer in 1966, which consisted of two spots representing the players chasing each other. One of the two players disappears when it is hit by the other. This game shows the winner, opposed to Ralph Baer's game which didn't do so (but only hide the second player).
|Television Magasine, july 1974 to
february 1975 (7 issues, England).
The whole project is split over seven
issues, each describing a precise part of the whole project. It starts with
the simplest form of the game and ends up in a quite advanced game with
several features added. The game
seen on the photo is a two player version which can produce pictures in color
when the television set is modified, and which generates amazing sound effects.
The best part is the last one from february 1975: it describes a special plug-in module which replaces a joystick
in order to play against the system. Simple and efficient, it is quite hard to make
it loose the ball. The obvious and amazing possibility of such a module is to
replace both joysticks to let the system play alone. A very few arcade versions
and home systems allowed playing against the machine. A little detail: the module
was called 'superman' in the article...
|Elektor #11 and #13, march and may 1976 (Europe).
An update of the original project published by Elektor in
issue 7 (november 1975). This analog game made with TTL chips featured a
Tennis game in its simplest form: two paddles an ball. Several
improvements were added and published in issues 11
from march 1976 and 13 from may 1976. They included new games, the central line, top and bottom
boundaries, sound effects, on-screen scoring, and even a "solo" mode to
play against the machine which never looses. More issues will be added here
as far as we can scan them.
|Popular Electronics, april 1976 (USA).
Two very interesting articles, as proposing different PONG variants.
The first article is for a 3-game project named "PONGTRONICS". One game is Handball
and the two others are PONG variants, one of which is played with gravity, so the
ball no longer bounces on all the screen edges, but moves as in a real tennis game.
|Popular Electronics, may 1976 (USA).
This Popular Electronics issue proposes an extension for the
PONGTRONICS project of the previous issue: on-screen scoring and sound effects. This
project is very interesting because it explains how on-screen scoring was done without
numbers. The digital on-screen scoring technology was expensive, so on-screen scoring
was done using lines (width increasing) or squares moving horizontally. Here, the
project displays two lines whose width increases as far as the points are marked.
Sound effects are added for bounces and scoring.
|Electronics Australia, may 1976 (Australia).
An interesting construction article offering 32 game variants
with unique effects, and designed with only 13 TTL chips.
|Radio Electronics, june 1976 (USA).
Another project which has two interesting points: the use of a large
square bumper, and the digital on-screen scoring. Yet we don't have the second issue
containing the schematics of the digital on-screen scoring and sound effects add-ons,
but this first part is still interesting for making the basic analog system.
|Electronics Today International, november 1976 (Australia)
A typical issue covering a project based around the AY-3-8500 game chip. This type of project has the interest of showing the simplicity of a system based around the AY-3-8500, hence the success of that chip. This typical low-cost project, here called ETI 804, was also sold in kit form.
|Television Magasine, july 1977 (England)
This interesting article contains the description of a simple project based around the MM-57105 game chip from NS. If most of the other hobbyist systems generate a black and white picture, this particular one generates a color picture. The article is split over the july and august 1977 issues. It even makes a comparison with the AY-3-8500 chip from GI in order to show the advantages of using the MM-57105 chip. Like with the other projects, it was possible to order the printed circuit board to assemble the system more easily.
|Electronics Australia, july 1978 (Australia).
EA's new Video Ball game is a simple project based around the General
Instruments AY-3-8600 chip.
|Radio Electronics, september 1980 (USA).
This article is a Wipeout game based around the General Instruments AY-3-8606 game chip. There are 10 game variants for 1 or 2 players. This is another PONG clone as it still uses the ball and paddles, but with a different goal: breaking a briks wall. Once again, this project shows how dedicated game chips simplified the main electronic circuit and reduced the number of components required, hence the global cost.