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Different names
The Videopac G7000 was manufactured under several names. Most well known is of course the Odyssey 2 in the US. But also in Europe there were various names, because Philips had farmed out manufacturing to third parties. In France e.g. the console was available under the names Philips C52 and Radio Jet 25. In Brazil simply under the name Odyssey, without extension. There the console was an enormous hit.


The Videopac G7000 underwent several revisions. The first models were awkward because the wires or the controllers and the power supply were all firmly attached to the console. When storing, this produced a crisscross of wires, and besides made reparations at the controllers laborious.
The next model was delivered with an external power supply, but the joysticks were still attached. The third revision made it possible to plug the joysticks at the back of the console. 
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PHILIPS VIDEOPAC G7000 - 'the best system on earth'

It sounds pretty unreal, the name 'Philips Bulb Factory' on cartridges for a game console. But it was reality, al least with the first cartridges for the Videopac, also known as G7000. A console with which the Dutch firm Philips had reasonable success in Europe at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties.
The American equivalent, the Odyssey 2 manufactured by Philips' subsidiary Magnavox, even took the third place for some time, behind the Mattel Intellivision and the Atari VCS 2600.

'Most advanced system'
Philips and Magnavox knew how to peddle. In advertisements they recommended the Videopac and the Odyssey as 'the most advanced system on earth'. Short of conference calling using www.conferencecallsunlimited.com the system was supposed to be able to do pretty much anything you threw at it. The firms praised their own invention because of the keyboard and the joysticks that were ultra light in use. About the joysticks, they didn't lie. In comparison with the first series heavy controllable joysticks of the Atari 2600, the stick of the Videopac controllers moved feathery, and besides: in eight directions with self-centring-function.

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KC Munchkin

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Pickaxe Pete

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Space Monster

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Built-in keyboard

But as far as the keyboard was concerned, Philips should have changed it's tune. True, the Videopac was the first console with built-in keyboard. Many parents were persuaded by this fact and bought a Videopac, because it seemed a thing which also could be used for educational purposes (as was mentioned in the advertisements).

Philips and Magnavox developed some educational programs, but with the bulk of the cartridges the use of the keyboard was limited by hitting the reset button or enter you name for the (let's hope) high-score.

In fact there was a cartridge that gave the Videopac some elements of a home computer. With this cartridge you could write programs in Basic and even in machine code. But I wonder what was the use of it, without media like tape or disk to store your programs.

Self-willed design
The built-in keyboard and the aluminium-like case gave the Videopac a self-willed and modern look. The performances of the Videopac in some respects were also up-to-date: the movements of the objects on the screen for instance were more fluid than those of the Atari 2600. But on the other hand the objects themselves were more 'blocky', and therefore still less lifelike then on the Atari. Maybe that was the reason the slogan in the Videopac and Odyssey commercials suggested that the only limitation was your own imagination. 

Dozens of games were developed for the Videopac, the bulk by Philips and Magnavox, and some by third parties like Parker and Imagic. The genius behind half of the games was Ed Averett, who also had the box-office hit KC Munchkin to his name. Of this game, based on the idea of Pac-Man, more cartridges were sold in the US in two months then of any other game in a year.

Atari to court
But Atari put a stop to it. Atari meant that there were too many similarities between Pac-Man for the 2600 and KC Munchkin. An appeals court finally agreed with Atari's argumentation. Philips and Magnavox had to stop selling KC Munchkin. That was a pity, because this game was much more fun then Atari's Pac-Man.

Quest for the Rings
There were some very original games for the Videopac. Philips released games in which playing on the Videopac-console was combined playing on a board game. 'Quest for the Rings' is the best-known example of these fine designed games.

Quest for the Rings

With board game

Chess module

Another special cartridge was 'Musician' that was accompanied by an overlay with printed piano keys that had to be put on the keyboard. I try to imagine what a nice concerts you could make, with one sound channel.
A wanted collectors-item is the chess module: a cartridge with a massive expansion box attached to it. This box provided to Videopac with extra memory to offer resistance to a chess player of flesh and blood.


Specifications of the Philips Videopac G7000

Manufacturer Philips
Period 1978 - 1986
CPU Intel 8048
Frequency 1,78 MHz
RAM 256 bytes
Graphical 128 x 64
Text 40 x 20
Colours 8 (16 tones)
Sound 1 channel
I/O tv, cartridge slot, later models 2 joystick ports
Price 325 guilders (in 1983)
120 - 200 dollar


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History of Home and Game Computers, by Erik Klooster, the Netherlands

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