Unisonic Products Corporation

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Industry Consumer electronics
Headquarters United States
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.

In 1991, Franklin Electronic Publishers sued Unisonic Products Corporation for misleading advertising.[1]

Electronic game calculators[edit]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Unisonic released a series of digital calculators that featured a quartz clock and an electronic game.[2] 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[edit]

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[3] 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[4] (the 8950 had been later renamed in 8800). The console has been emulated by MAME emulator.[5] The console was also sold in Japan with the name "Casino TV Games" at the start of 1979.[3]

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.

Model name Model
number
Serial
number(s)
Year of
release
Number of
selectable games
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[6] 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
Tournament 2000[7] T2000-JR 0196566 1977 6 Yes Japan AY-3-8500
Tournament 2501 ? ? 1977 6 Yes ? AY-3-8500
Olympian 2600 ? ? 1978 10 Yes Japan AY-3-8600
AY-3-8615(add colors)
Champion 2711[3] 1978 4 built-in
4 cartridge
No CP-1610(CPU)
AY-3-8800(video and sound)

See also[edit]

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