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Lost Consoles - The GCE Vectrex Turns 30 !

On 02/26/2013 at 06:50 PM by The Bandit

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Doomed from the start

The month of November 1982 saw the release of two new home consoles.The first was Atari's 2nd generation console,the 5200, and the other was a new entry into the home console wars with the Vectrex by GCE (General Consumer Electronics) which was later bought out by Milton Bradley.

The Vectrex was GCE's first and only venture into home gaming and they released the console in November of 1982 at a price of $199 ($460 today).The console was unique in two ways, one it was the only self-contained home console with it's own black & white TV screen and two, it was the only console to use vector graphics just like the arcade machines instead of pixel graphics.The console also had two peripherals, a 3-D Imager (which beat the Sega Master Systems' SegaScope to market by 4 years) and the LightPen.Both of these are extremely rare and expensive to find.The system also used colored overlays to add color to the games.The system was also highly praised for it's hardware and it's controller.

In early 1983 Milton Bradly wanted to expand into the game market after seeing how much money was being made so they acquired GCE and expanded sales of the Vectrex into Europe and, with an agreement with Bandai, into Japan.This proved to be a costly move for MB because much like in the US, the system just didn't sell even though throughout all of 1983 the price was dropped from $199 to $149 and then to $99 at the end of 1983 at which time the market was beginning to crash.There have been no sales numbers released for the system but MB lost $32 million dollars on the Vectrex in just a little more than a year.So much like other game consoles of the time Milton Bradley announced the Vectrex was discountinued in February of 1984 and warehouses full of unsold Vectrex stock was sold off at $49.Even today it is possible to find a brand new in-the-box Vectrex system.No one really knows why the system didn't sell other than like with 5200 it was released at the beginning of the Great Crash.

There were 28 commercial games released for the system, 6 of which require the 3D-Imager or LightPen to play along with 9 unreleased prototypes (well they are released now).However there are still games being released for the system through the Homebrew community through the generosity of the developers of the system who released all rights to the system to the Public Domain.Since 1996 there have been 41 Homebrew games released for the Vectrex.

For a system that didn't sell well and only lasted litte more than a year it has a very devoted community of fans.

Long Live the Vectrex and Happy 30th Birthday!






Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/26/2013 at 06:52 PM

I had one of these.  Bought it in the late 90's at a flea market.  Pretty damn cool.  Unfortunately, I got rid of my collection when I moved from San Francisco back to the east coast.  I regret that a lot.  

Good blog!

The Bandit

02/28/2013 at 02:54 AM

I bought one in 1986 when the price had dropped to $49.00.    and it's still working !


02/26/2013 at 08:07 PM

It'd be kind of interesting to see the Vectrex in action.

The Bandit

02/28/2013 at 02:55 AM

There is a Vectrex emulator app for iPad,iPhone,iPod and on Android as well i believe.


02/26/2013 at 08:56 PM

It's cool that it has it's own screen but compared to playing on a TV screen like with the atari 2600, the Vectrex had to seem small.

The Bandit

02/28/2013 at 02:56 AM

Yep,you would think so but after playing it you really don't notice the size of the screen.


02/27/2013 at 08:34 AM

I seem to see a lot of collectors getting into the Vectrex these days. I've always wanted to see one in person, just because I hear it's an experience to actually see it booted up.

The Bandit

02/28/2013 at 02:58 AM can still buy them new and in the box on Ebay from people who acquired them through warehouse sales.But those are really expensive.A good used one will run you about $250.00.

The Bandit

02/28/2013 at 02:59 AM

Thanks all for the responses....LOL....I really didn't expect it since this is just an old blog I had put up at 1UP.COM

In the process of moving all my stuff over.


04/28/2013 at 12:41 AM

I saw one at a flea market here last month! Holy crap! Did not have a clue what it was. I had completely forgotten about that one. May have to see if the guy still has it.....

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