In 1976 Fairchild Electronics
rocked the video game industry with its invention of the ROM cartridge which was utilized in their video game console The Channel-F. The technological innovation lead to an increase amount of diversity in the video game industry in the form of videos games and the consoles that played them. However with innovation came adoption and after the release of the Channel F Atari came up with the Atari VCS (later renamed the Atari 2600
However caught in the middle of all of this was the Magnavox reeling from the success of their non-programmable console the Odyssey. However by the time the Channel F and Atari 2600 had been released Magnaovx had already begun designing a new non-programmable console that would succeed the Odyssey. Forced to make an important decision Magnavox scrapped the design in favor of a cartride capable console in a darring attempt to break out of the over saturated dedicated console market. With expectations that technology would lead the console to sucess Magnavox released the Odyssey 2 with high expectations in 1978
The console that was released in 1978 differed greatly from the console Magnavox originally had invisioned. Firstly it was a programable console capable of utilizing ROm cartridges. Also the Odyssey 2's CPU could utilize background music scoring, better graphics, as well as better gameplay when compared to its predecessor.
The Magnavox designers also want to differentiate their from their competition in the form of how players actually palyed their game. Firstly unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey 2 also included a full alpha-numeric touch pad keyboard. This lead to a small active group of developers for the console to design educational games for the console which would go onto to be a marketed selling point for the console.
For hand held controllers, the Odyssey 2 utilized the classic joystick design of the 1970s and 80s: A moderately sized, self centering eight way joystick. It was held in the left hand, and manipulated with the right hand. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single 'Action' button. A credit to the designers at Magnavox, three or four years later, with Atari, Intellivision
, and a number of third party companies producing hardware, many people still felt that the Odyssey 2 joystick was one of the best designed.
While by no means a failure the Odyssey 2 had failed to really catch on the way other consoles had at the time. By the early 80's The landscape for video game consoles had greatly changed. Atari had gain a significant foothold on the market. Fairchild had left only to be replaced by Intellivision and (latter) Colecovision
. While the sales of these consoles grew greatly as months and years passed by usership of the Odyssey 2 had remained stagnant. Nevertheless various developers refused to drop support for the console. Developers such as Philips
kept on supporting the Odyssey 2 well until the death of the console. With a slow but steady stream of of games being released for the console as well as a child and educational friendly image the console sold around one million units in the United States.
As for overseas sales the Odyssey 2 started the unusual trend (i.e. Sega Master System
) of consoles that did poorly in the States that going onto be suprise successes in other overseas markets.Part of the reason for this was that the European release for the console was marketed and planned out by Magnavox's parent company and electronics giant Philips Electronics. In Europe (and in other parts of the world as well) the Odyssey 2 was sold as the Philips G7000 Videopac console. In France, it was known as the Philips C52. In Brazil it was known as the Odyssey, as the original Odyssey was never released in Brazil. Total overseas sales reached over one million units.
- CPU: 8-bit Intel processor running at 1.79 MHz
- Memory: 64 bytes CPU-Internal RAM, 128 bytes Audio/Video RAM
- Video/Audio: Custom Intel video and audio processor
- Video: 160 x 200 resolution, 15 color palette (sprites may only use a max of 8)
- Audio: Single channel, capable of noise output