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Thread: Fairchild Channel F.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Aswald's Avatar
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    Default Fairchild Channel F.

    All, righty, then- how about the Fairchild Channel F system?

    I first saw this thing in a Stereo Magic Store in the mid-1970s. We were amazed at...a CARTRIDGE SYSTEM!

    Tic-Tac-Toe. Doodle. Whoa- amazing stuff.

    This was said to be the first. Who here still has one?

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    I've got two (one each of the US-based Zircon and Fairchild models). They're pristine, often displayed at the CGE Museum but rarely played.

    I can overlook primitive gaming but I have a pretty hard time overlooking bad games. Channel F really lacks in that department. It may have been revolutionary in its day what with being the first cartridge-based system ever, but it hasn't aged well. In fact, by the time Atari 2600 came out, the Channel F had aged miserably.

    The best thing about the system is its creator, Jerry Lawson. I've met Mr. Lawson on several occasions and he spoke at this year's CGE. Great guy with a lot of really funny stories about gaming when gaming was very very new. I'm hoping that Zach captured some of that in his video so we can share his anecdotes with everyone who couldn't attend.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Aswald's Avatar
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    Well, it IS true that it hasn't aged well, but man, when it first came out, it was AMAZING. Even the Tic-Tac-Toe game was something- remember the arcade scene back then wasn't much more advanced.

    It does make for an interesting piece of history, though.

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    I found mine at the swap meet last summer for $15. Still in its box! After buying it I remember walking away and hearing the sellers muttering to each other "Do you think that was worth anything? Could we have gotten more?" I got outta there just in time.

    My first impression was that it was a lot bigger than I was expecting. I don't know why I would assume that a piece of 1970s video game technology would be compact, but small it definitely is not.

    And oh those wacky controllers! Besides the historical significance of the system, the uniqueness of the controllers also attracted me to it. Now that I've actually gotten a chance to hold 'em, I'm not so sure how great they'd be for playing a game. The grip is a bit of a handful while the joystick on top is awkward to control. They also felt pretty flimsy to me. None the less, they are definitely unique and a blast to mess around with.

    As for the games . . . well, I dont' have any games for it so I couldn't say. I know there's suspose to be an internal game in the system, but I was never able to access it. After having the system on for a few minutes there was a poof sound and it lost power. Darn! I'm assuming something blew inside, but I've always been hopeful that if I plugged it in again it would magically work. Unfortuantely, I was force to pack up my collection a couple of weeks later and never got a chance to re-test it.

    When I started collecting, this was a system I earmarked as a must have (I had three criteria to determine what systems to buy--they had to either be historically significant, a pop culture icon, or a nostalgic piece for my past. This qualified under the historical label.) I had been tracking them on eBay for almost a year, but had capped my price at $30, which each auction inevitably passed. In the end, I'd say $30-$35 is about the right price to pay and I'm glad I held out. Especially since I ended up getting it for $15!

    If you're a collector of systems as opposed to games, I'd say this is definitely one to add to your wish list. If you only collect for the games . . . well, I haven't played any of the games, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not the system for you.

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    My experiences with the Ch F:

    1: I've found every one I've gotten in the answering machine section of thrifts or Garage sales.
    2: I've been lucky enough to find them all with thier smoked plastic cover
    3: All have needed thier controllers fixed; I've become reasonably good at repairing them too.
    4: I've got 3,4,5 CIB and 26(Video Invaders) for trade...
    Lick me! LICK ME!!

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    1: I've found every one I've gotten in the answering machine section of thrifts or Garage sales.



    Yeah, I can definitely see that! I've actually mistaken more than one answering machine as being a classic system from a distance--often thinking it could be a Channel F.

    I also find checking the typewriter section is a good place to look for Odyssey 2s. The toy section a good place to find Virtual Boys and Gameboys. And the DVD/CD/VCR sections often are hiding 3DOs, CDIs, and other 90s style CD gaming systems.

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    I got one for 10 bucks with two games on ebay last year. That thing is a tank, come to think of it, I dont even know if it works atm, I probably should look at that.

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    Ryu Hayabusa (Level 16) rbudrick's Avatar
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    I believe the one I got was for somewhere between 15 and 50 dollars...I really don't remember. However, it did come boxed. Oddly, it is a plain white boxed that says it is a refurbished unit. Anyone know the rarity of this type of box? I think a have a few extra games for it too if anyone is interested.

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    Mine is broken. Bought it at a flea market for... I think $12. Came with a Baseball cart. Unfortunately, it just brings up a blank green screen. Cleaning didn't help.

    I hang onto it anyway. Working or not, it looks groovy with its retro-'70s, woodgrained style. I've never actually played a Channel F game, but from what I hear, my console would get just as much use if was working perfectly (i.e.: none).

    FWIW, I found my Coleco Gemini in the answering machine section of a thrift.
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    speaking of 'answering machine sections', i recently began reading through the DP guide 7, and finally saw a picture of an original odyssey system. the shape is unique, and i frequently saw it in the answering machine section at my local junk shop. i remember because it was there for about a year, and i ALWAYS saw it. now i see it in the guide, and, no surprise, it sold a while back(i dont know specifically when, because i didnt care about it)...had no games or hookups i dont think, but still...its one of the few systems i care about and dont have.

    i also remember seeing two 'crappy tv games' at a junk shop when i first got into collecting(before i knew anyone else did)...i said to my GF "look, this piece of crap is connected to its own funny looking TV"..i proceeded to pick up the controller on one..pressed some buttons..moved on...

    ah well....back to your discussion...

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    i also remember seeing two 'crappy tv games' at a junk shop when i first got into collecting(before i knew anyone else did)...i said to my GF "look, this piece of crap is connected to its own funny looking TV"..i proceeded to pick up the controller on one..pressed some buttons..moved on...
    Vectrex?

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    RACES MINI MOTORCYCLES Videogamerdaryll's Avatar
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    I've always liked these....They are in my first Console spot on my Console shelf.

    I have this one Fairchild Channel F and the Channel F II

    The Channel F II I cost me a bit more then what I expected since it came in it's box.

    Then I bought several carts and the extra player controllers.

    http://www.vidgame.net/fairchild/FAIRCHILD.htm

    One of my biggest Flea Market FIND Loses was when I found a LOAD of Mint boxed Channel F carts...this guy had a bunch...
    The guy was a HARD.(...)and would not go less then $10.00 each not even if all were purchased...Some that seemed to be in this extra whit protective box he wanted $12.00 for....

    He had a ton of Collector item gaming stuff like(sad to say) someone Died..
    Tons of Handheld games..the particular more valuable harder to get ones.
    To this day I have no clue who bought all that stuff up..I grabbed what handhelds I could afford that day because he wasn't cheap on anything.The next week he had sold everything,and had nothing left..I still see this guy but he's not a friendly vendor

    I'm so curious as to just who picked up those MINT Channel F carts..

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    I don't have the US-versions, but I have the Saba, ITT and the Nordmende versions. The Nordmende is one of my favourite consoles. I'm now trying to complete the games. Saba is not a big problem here in Germany. More challenging are the Nordmende and Itt games.
    I like the system and I don't understand why so many collectors ignore it as it was really the beginning of the cartridge thing.

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    I have 3 working sytems 2 Channel F type I and 1 type II. The second type I is made up of a combination of parts from 2 systems. One did not work and one had bad controllers. By bad I mean someone had taken them apart and not all of the parts were there. I guess a failed attempt to fix contorllers.

    I agree with everone else the Channel F game are only surpassed in Badness by those of the RCA Studio II. The first two attempts at a cart system failed and the third got it right, the 2600.

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    Apple (Level 5) mezrabad's Avatar
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    This system, though emulated in MESS, just isn't done justice unless you play with the real thing and use the actual controllers with the games as they were designed to be used. Then, Justice may be served and the sentence handed down is . . . "Channel F . . . thy games SUCK!"

    At least, that's what I've heard.

    I've got one myself and have only played it long enough to make sure it works. The controllers were cool. I haven't played with them for a long time, but their design in the hockey game made sense to me. Up and down (literally up and down, it's a plunger) to move the goally up and down, forward backward right and left to move your offense paddle and turn the stick to change the angle on the paddle. Of course, I haven't played anyone using that setup, so I don't really know how intuitive it is. Anyway, the controllers fascinate me. Zircon made one for the Atari 2600, too (on ebay this week, I think).

    I'm working on aquiring all the US consumer carts for it before playing the hell out of it. (Need six more, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 and 22 . . . anyone? anyone? I'll only use it for a few weeks and then I'll give it back and I'll pay shipping both ways! Anyone?) I would also love to play the #20 Europe Chess cart, but I may settle for the emulator version.

    For the record I spent waaaay too much for mine and the 18 carts I got with it. $195, shipped, with carts 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,13,14,17,23,24,25,26 boxes for all but 5, 25 & 26, manuals for most of the ones with boxes. Yes, it was an ebay bid war gone out of hand, but I wanted it, so sue me. If I didn't intend to sell it after I was done with it, I wouldn't have spent that much. I'm just hoping that when I put it back on ebay there are people as enthusiastic for it as I was, I'll be happy if I break even. (Hell, I'll be *lucky* if I break evan.)
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    I really want one, if only to test out this Schach cart I bought years ago. But I actually do like the games I've played on it, believe it or not. I guess I have a high tolerance for crap (see: VIS).
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus
    I really want one, if only to test out this Schach cart I bought years ago. But I actually do like the games I've played on it, believe it or not. I guess I have a high tolerance for crap (see: VIS).
    Did you know the Schach cart can be modded into a Multicart? Lucky you! Imagine all those games concentrated into a single cart. You say you have a high tolerance for crap, but having all that crap in such a small space might test your limits! I kid unfairly because I haven't really played the system as much as I need to to say these things about it. I just have it and say to it "when I sell my Odyssey stuff, you're next!" muhahahah.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mezrabad
    I just have it and say to it "when I sell my Odyssey stuff, you're next!" muhahahah.
    I'm glad that I'm not a poor old video game living at your place...

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    Quote Originally Posted by j_eits
    Quote Originally Posted by mezrabad
    I just have it and say to it "when I sell my Odyssey stuff, you're next!" muhahahah.
    I'm glad that I'm not a poor old video game living at your place...
    Actually, the "you're next" means "I'm going to play you", it not "sell you". I won't sell it until I've played it and scanned it. THEN I'll sell it. Um, muhahahah!

    I'm trying to do this chronologically by system, and I'm trying not to play the "next system" until I've finished with the previous. It's the only way I can keep everything straight, by focusing on one system at a time. Otherwise I could spend all day staring at Ebay and never play anything.
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    I just hooked up and turned on my new Channel F - well, new to me anyway - for the first time, and...you know, I must have a higher tolerance for the old-school stuff, or I just like all video games (well, I know that one isn't true), or somethin', 'cause I didn't think it was that bad, and I only had one functioning cartridge to test aside from the "console games."

    From a physical design standpoint, damn, is this thing 70s. But even that has its own strange appeal. I kinda like the controllers - both of mine appear to be working fine, and the whole joystick/paddle/plunger (!?) combo presents some interesting combinations for movement. It actually makes the built-in standard Pong-style hockey game kinda cool.

    Like I said, I'm sure it's just me that gets off on this stuff.

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