This obscure videogame system was made by Voltmace, a British company based in Baldock. Voltmace came into being in 1977 as a pure sales/marketing organisation - it offered sales facilities to companies who had a product to sell. They were contracted by one of the early pionneers in the video field to handle their product.
Shortly after this, Voltmace came into contact with Teleng who were putting out one of the first programmable machines and there ensued a short but profitable association during which Voltmace sold many of the British made game machines. But later Teleng's parent company decided to close down the factory in Essex and gradually run down video game production in the U.K.
Eventually, in 1980 Voltmace approached the Videomaster arm of the Waddington's company with a view to marketing their Database game machine - which was at the time being made in Hong Kong.
Their first season with the Database was quite successful and when, in early '81, the chance came to purchase the machine in its entirety, Voltmace jumped at the chance.
They could at last produce a British made video games machine in their Baldock factory and it was quickly arranged for all the tooling machinery to be shipped over from Hong Kong - by June '81 all the hardware needed was in Baldock and staff were recruited to start production.
One of the drawbacks of the Database machine when it was being made in Hong Kong was a certain reputation for unreliability. Voltmace tried to resolve that by strict quality-control and good after-sales service. But the Database couldn't resist long enough against competitors like Atari, Intellivision and Colecovision, and the '83 videogame industry crash surely doomed the Voltmace adventure...
The other noteworthy Voltmace products were joysticks for popular micro-computers, mainly BBC systems. There were in fact Database controllers modified to be used with other systems.
In fact the Database is software compatible with the Interton VC-4000 and "clones". This doesn't mean that it can use the Interton cartridges, as they won't fit, but the internal specs and software are the same. The CPU is the 2650A from Signetics and the Video Controller is the 2636 from Signetics as well.
About 40 cartridges has been released for the Interton VC-4000, but only 29 were available for the Database... It seems that a converter was available to play Interton cartridges on a Voltmace Database! Surprisingly, original games for the Database were programmed by Derek Andrews at the time : Leap-Frog, Crunch and a Defender clone (never released). See Derek's interview for more information.
Like with all the systems of the "Interton family", there are two controllers with 12 buttons keypad + 2 fire buttons + a joystick. Controllers were designed to use informative plastic layers delivered with each games, used to show the function of each key. The control panel is composed of an ON/OFF switch and 3 buttons (Reset program, Select Game, Start Game).
Thanks to David Elvin for most info
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
I Have a fully restored Voltmace that powers on but as I have no games I have no idea if it actually works! Was very grubby when I got it but now it looks great. Anyone got a few games spare?!! :)
Tuesday 10th January 2017
Nick Blackburn (Isle of Man, UK)
i had a database games computer just found it in my loft any idea how you tune it in on the tv are they worth any money
Friday 23rd March 2012
david stokes (england)
The Database system was actually made in the Philipines. My old company (Circolec in South London) was cotrscted to Videomaster for 3 years, servicing and repairing all of their games. We also sold thousands of obsolete games to market traders and small shops during that period. Our first contract with them was to repair and repack hundreds (maybe thousands!) of Starchess and pin pong games that had been damaged by floods in the Phiiipines. Waddingtons paid for them in advance and didn''t realise they were flood damaged until they arrived in the UK!
Tuesday 23rd November 2010
John Bell (UK)
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Two controllers with 12 buttons, 2 fire buttons and an analog joystick