Unisonic Products Corporation
|Products||Calculators, CRT television sets, video game consoles, digital watches, telephones, answering machines, digital watches, alarm clocks|
Unisonic Products Corporation was an American manufacturer and distributor of consumer electronics from the 1970s to the 1990s. Although headquartered in New York City, Unisonic outsourced its manufacturing operations to various facilities in East Asia (especially in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan). Unisonic developed a variety of electronics, including calculators, CRT television sets, video game consoles, digital watches, telephones, answering machines, and digital alarm clocks.
Electronic game calculators
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Unisonic released a series of digital calculators that featured a quartz clock and an electronic game. Among the calculators produced were Casino 7 and Mickey Mouse Space Quiz (model number FS-2024), both released in 1976, and 21 (model number 21-P1B), which was released in 1977 and featured a blackjack game. Casino 7 and 21 each employed a vacuum fluorescent display (VFD), whereas Mickey Mouse Space Quiz used two light-emitting diodes (LEDs), one green and one red, to indicate correct and incorrect quiz answers, respectively.
Foray into the video game console market
Like dozens of other manufacturers of consumer electronics, Unisonic released a series of dedicated consoles in the late 1970s. The consoles were generally patterned on Home Pong, a game console released by Atari, Inc. in 1975. Unisonic released its first console in 1976: the Unisonic Sportsman T101, which featured four selectable games, two linear paddle controllers, and a light gun. Unisonic followed the Sportsman with a series of variations through 1976 and 1977, all for the US market.
As was the case with most "Pong clones" of the 1970s, Unisonic's Sportsman and Tournament consoles were driven by General Instrument's AY-3-8500-001, an integrated circuit containing seven video games. The Unisonic consoles models not featuring a light gun offered a subset of these, consisting of four games: Practice, Squash, Hockey, and Tennis. The Tournament 150 was the first Unisonic console equipped with the light gun accessory, and with it Unisonic introduced two additional games: Skeet and Target.
In 1978 the company released its last pong console: the Olympian 2600, which featured ten games and substituted joysticks for the paddle controllers and light gun. It is based on the AY-3-8600 pong chip with the addition of colors thanks to the AY-3-8615.
In 1978 the company released the Champion 2711 console based on a real CPU, the CP-1610 used also by the Intellivision. Differently from the Intellivision (that use the Gimini full range 8900 programmable game set), for sound and video it uses the AY-3-8800 chip that is a lot less powerful: the games are only textual. It had 4 games built-in and a cartridge slot (only 4 cartridges are known). The system was produced in very low quantities, and now is extremely rare. The console is the only one known to use the "Gimini mid range 8950 programmable game set" as described in the Gimini products book (the 8950 had been later renamed in 8800). The console has been emulated by MAME emulator. The console was also sold in Japan with the name "Casino TV Games" at the start of 1979.
Atari, Inc., which released the Atari Video Computer System in North America some months prior to the Olympian 2600's street date, went on to dominate the video game console market in North America until the North American video game crash of 1983.
|Light gun||Manufactured in||Chip|
|Sportsman T101||T101||?||1976||4||No||Hong Kong||AY-3-8500|
|Tournament 100||T100||023410||1976||4||No||Hong Kong||AY-3-8500|
|Tournament 102||T102||01033||1976||4||No||Hong Kong||4 players, may be the MPS-7600-001|
|Tournament 150||T150||016621||1976||6||Yes||Hong Kong||AY-3-8500|
|Tournament 200||?||?||1976||4||No||Hong Kong||AY-3-8500|
|Tournament 1000||T-1000||?||1977||4||No||Hong Kong||AY-3-8500|
|Champion 2711||1978||4 built-in
AY-3-8800(video and sound)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 3, 2008. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 16, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- The Farmer's Character and Advertising Phones – M – features two Mickey Mouse telephones manufactured by Unisonic in 1983 and 1988, respectively. Accessed on 12 April 2009.
- Pong Picture Page Accessed on 12 April 2009.
- Table of Pong consoles and clones from Pong-Story.com. Accessed on 12 April 2009.
- Pong, the Video Game by Atari, Inc. from Arcade-History.com. Accessed on 12 April 2009.
- Pong in a chip, from PONG-Story.com. Accessed on 12 April 2009.