A friend of the family. VideoBrain Family Computer




A friend of the family. VideoBrain Family Computer

Game. It is for many of them to buy and sell computers. Many of the computer is nothing but games, and do not need. In the late 1970s, it was difficult. Rather, the video games are already out of its cradle , but they are clearly not up to the quality of the image and versatility of the plot, which would make them attractive to a wide circle of users. The games were a possibility of incidental computer. But things have changed since then, when the company introduced the first Umtech-kind family computer VideoBrain. Perhaps it is from this point we can assume that the computers went to the masses.

High technology – in the family!

VideoBrain 1978 года

Let’s not argue about what was VideoBrain: home computer or game console. You can stick with the one and the other opinion. And even a third, if it exists. VideoBrain appeared long before, when marketers decided what and how it should be called, and taught people the correct use of words. Let’s talk about its technical characteristics.

So, we have the family computer VideoBrain Family Computer model 101. It was presented in December 1977, and was released in March 1978. Another broad topic of discussion: Do it a model 1977 or 1978 yet. In any case, its processor Fairchild F8 could not boast of excessive power and runs at a speed of 1.79 megahertz. He was not remarkable for its performance, and incredibly small size. Memory (RAM, RAM) was just 1 kilobyte.

Its video system supports 16 colors. Display not supplied. Broadcasting is on the TV (RF 3 or 4). Resolution: 400 x 160 pixels or 1000 characters of text. Were provided for the joystick ports and extensions. In the role of external storage acted Cassette (without it you can and do). Operating System (optional): APL / S. First gaming computer worth $ 499 95 U.S. cents.

Computers at the time were the most enormous “cabinets.” Umtech managed to realize his VideoBrain dream: to create a functional consumer computer smaller than a typewriter and a price below $ 500 (even if only slightly). It is possible that this was the first in the history of our planet’s computer, which can be classified as “domestic appliances.” That is focused on normal users who do not plan to tinker, test and tune, and just want to have fun videoigrushkoy.
With the nail? Even less!

Картриджи к VideoBrain 1978 года

Its microprocessor became famous on a single wafer of silicon, half the size of a human fingernail, were gathered 10,000 transistors. He was doing a half-million instructions per second. In contrast to the man, he is not wrong.

Several years ago, the technology that allows the processor to produce so little with so much more efficient not have even dreamed of. Yet it was not a game console. In terms of its objectives was to including housekeeping accounts and run educational programs for children. Small family-run computer.

He has been called “the first home computer for beginners.” VideoBrain was the first computer in which to download programs used cartridges only memory (ROM, ROM). These cartridges are common with game consoles. Cassette was not needed. In VideoBrain did not include any moving parts. It was enough to insert the cartridge into the slot and the program is loaded into memory.

By the way, Fairchild engineer Jerry Lawson (Jerry Lawson) is the inventor of the first cartridge-volatile memory. They were designed by Jerry Lawson for Fairchild Channel F, a home video game console.
Education, games and finance

We return to VideBrain Family Computer. We know not many cartridges for it, have survived even screen shots (or just screenshots) of some of these great programs:


EN01 – Gladiator

VideoBrain игра Gladiator
EN02 – Pinball

VideoBrain игра Pinball
EN03 – Tennis

VideoBrain игра Tennis
EN04 – Checkers

VideoBrain игра Checkers
EN05 – Blackjack

VideoBrain игра Blackjack
EN06 – Vice Versa

VideoBrain игра Vice Versa


ED01 – Music Teacher 1 (Music Teacher 1)

VideoBrain программа Music Teacher 1
ED02 – Math Tutor 1 (Teacher of Mathematics 1)

VideoBrain программа Math Tutor 1
ED03 – Wordwise 1

VideoBrain программа Wordwise 1
ED04 – Wordwise 2

VideoBrain программа Wordwise 2
ED05 – VideoArtist (Video artist)

VideoBrain программа VideoArtist
ED06 – Lemonade Stand: A Business Simulation. Business simulation games

VideoBrain программа Lemonade Stand

Accounting for finance and development:

APL / S – The Computational Language (computer language)
VB-81 – Financier

VideoBrain программа Financier
VB-1000 – Money Minder


CM01 – Timeshare
ST01 – Demonstration

Unlike most computers and game consoles, VideoBrain included almost automatically. It was enough to insert the cartridge into the slot, close the door and press the «MASTER CONTROL». At the launch of the cartridge required two seconds. The computer does not need to be on and off, which means that his watch and alarm clock did not lose their values.
Unfriendly keyboard and joystick clear

But the keyboard other than hostile to the user and not name. In his pursuit of minimalist designers have gone too far. It consisted of 36 keys and still so close to each other that the input commands and even more text, it was not very comfortable.

Button «MASTER CONTROL» returns the currently executing program in its initial position, that is, pressing it in line with the program restarts.

If the keyboard is nothing to praise, the self-calibrating the joystick deserves only good things: it works well. In addition, VideoBrain were ports that allow you to connect four joystick once. The question is whether there were in the early days of the microcomputer era programs that would support more than two joysticks?
What could VideoBrain without a cartridge?

Картридж в VideoBrain вставлен

VideoBrain was not that skillful. The absence of an embedded operating system and even its similarity- mirage at all raises the question of his membership of a computer tribe. However, something can be done even without a cartridge. Here is the menu offers the user, who decided to “play” with VideoBrain, without inserting a cartridge:

[Text] enter text on the screen: seven lines of 16 characters each
[Color] appears on the screen color palette with which to calibrate the colors of the TV. It was better not to do if the user did not understand this
[Clock] Clock without batteries. When you turn off the computer they ceased to show the exact time
[Alarm] Alarm. The user can set up your computer so that it gives audible signals at certain times

Capabilities similar to those that today has even the most basic mobile phone (it’s not about smartphones).
Baby understood the language of large machines

Hobbyists could please the availability of programming language for VideoBrain. But the joy marred by the fact that it was not BASIC, which was used in most of the older computers.

Insert cartridge «Computational Language», the user can write programs in a “simplified” version of the programming language APL / S, which was considered a dialect of APL.

This programming language is widely used powerful corporation IBM. Unlike BASIC, it was used on the mainframe, the mainframe has since the 1960s. The first portable computer corporation IBM 5100 support both language: BASIC and APL.

VideoBrain Family Computer was deprived of one more sign of a “complete” computer: serial and parallel ports. Four ports for joysticks and an expansion port for an optional external module Expander 1.

This module was designed to make the family computer more flexible and user-friendly to external devices. It contained two serial RS-232 port, and a connection for a cassette, which can be used as a data storage. More precisely, that were tape drive and tape – drive.

Is your first family of our planet was so closed that he did not support any connection with the outside world? It was not so! There was expansion Expander 2, which included a 300-a free acoustic modem (that is, the speed reached 300 bps). It works only with the cartridge «Timeshare». Expansion Module Expander 2 is inserted into the main module Expander 1. That is, to get a modem without having Expander 1, it was impossible.

VideoBrain Family Computer quickly went from the device to the crest of popularity and fame to the sticker, which is selling on the cheap.
From the high point to the complete collapse

February 10, 1978 in the hands of VideoBrain Jane Pauley (Jane Pauley) was a star TV Today Show. Later in the same year the computer was advertised in the magazine Popular Science.

Passed just over a year, and to get rid of unsold VideoBrain, in November 1979, it has sold at a substantial discount, for $ 164 U.S.. In May 1980, the price went down to $ 80. The success of its first developers in the world has brought the family computer, and the company went bankrupt, and half the product remained in storage and it still needed to sell.

VideoBrain sold mainly through advertisements in the press and in the stores were hardly represented. Exceptions were Macy stores in Northern California, which briefly traded the family computer.
In the great designers

A few words about constructors such a wonderful device, which, although not earned commercial success, but it paved the way for home computers, found that a computer not only for scientists and programmers, but also for ordinary people.

Its constructed David Chan (David Chung), and Albert Yu (Albert Yu). Prior to that, David Chan worked in Fairchild Semiconductor and created a processor Fairchild F8, which was based VideoBrain. In 1976, he became Vice President of Engineering of the corporation Intel, which was the first computer designed for family entertainment.

Albert Yu came from Intel, where he worked in the department of integrated circuits. September 15, 2005 at Stanford University representatives spoke with Alierta S, as one of those who created Silicon history of our civilization.

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