|Type||Video game console|
|CPU||Zilog Z80A at 3.57 MHz|
The VTech Socrates was an educational video game console released in 1988 by VTech. The console featured a robot character Socrates, named after the philosopher. The character is visually similar to Johnny Five from the Short Circuit movies.
The system featured standard wireless controllers that communicated via infrared reception.
In Germany, the system was sold by "Yeno" under the name "Prof. Weiss-Alles" [sic].
Many games cartridges were available for the Socrates including: Facts 'N Fractions, State to State, Memory Mania, Around the World, Hodge Podge, Game Wizard and Amazing Mazes. "Game Wizard" was delayed for over a year and was eventually canceled. Alongside this, other cartridges became available with different functions, such as the CAD Design System for designing different objects, and the Touch Pad system, mainly geared towards younger learners. Many cartridges were molded in the shape of 3.5" floppy disk.
There were games built into the console as well, including math, language, music and art programs. The system also featured voice capabilities through the use of an add-on voice cartridge which could be purchased separately.
The graphics and sound of the games were noticeably slow, with the system often taking several seconds to complete drawing and color filling a static picture; small areas could move more quickly. There was a very noticeable delay between user input and the system responding. Response times did not seem to be affected by the presence or absence of the voice cartridge.
The system came standard with a wireless full keyboard with two wired-on controllers. Other optional hardware included a wireless mouse with attached mouse pad (mainly for use with the CAD Design Cartridge) and an electronic touchpad (for the Touch Pad cartridge.)
Price and Phase Out
The system was quite expensive upon its initial release; most consoles saw prices of up to $130. Due to the price and the competition with VTech's other products, including the Whiz Kid systems, the Socrates was phased out after only a few years. Today, it is considered rare, although attempts to emulate the system proceed as part of the MESS project.
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