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P > PHILIPS  > Videopac C52   

Videopac C52

Magnavox (which merged with Philips in 1974) released the Odyssey² in 1978 to compete with brand new cartridge based video game systems like the Atari VCS, RCA Studio II or Fair-Child Electronics Channel-F.

The Videopac C52 is the french version of the Magnavox Odyssey². It was sold by Philips and was only available in France. The same system was sold in the rest of Europe as the Videopac G7000, both systems being in fact identical apart from the frenchised keyboard...

In fact several C52 models were marketed with minor differences between each others. These systems were labeled C52/01, C52/02, C52/03 or C52/04. 01 and 02 models had a nice power on/off button, detachable controllers, and external power supply with its own connector at the back of the system (system pictured here is a C52/02 model). For cost reduction sake, latest models (04) had no power switch (you plug the system to turn it on!), hard wired controllers and built-in power supply. There were also different packagings, and controllers were sometimes black, sometimes silver...

The system is powered by an Intel 8048 microcontroller and a Video Display Controller (VDC) generating all audio & video. This VDC, which is a custom Intel IC, can generate 4 different types of graphic objects: a background grid, single characters, quad characters (made of 4 single characters) and sprites. A maximum of 4 independent sprites can be displayed. There are monochrome and of 8 x 8 pixels in size. Of course the VDC can detect sprite collisions.

The C52 has 64 pre-defined characters (letters and graphic symbols) in memory. Up to 12 foreground characters can be displayed from this internal character set. Many games (especially early ones) used a lot those pre-defined characters: man walking, right arrow, slopes, tree, ships, plane and a ball.

The flat membrane keyboard of the C52 was a major selling point. It was meant to be used for game selection, educational games, programming, entering its name for hi-scores,etc. Apart from the game selection, it was hardly used.

Though not as popular as the Atari VCS, or later Mattel Intellivision in the USA, the Videopac systems did very well in Europe where it was marketed by several different brands (Philips, Radiola, Schneider, Brandt, Siera, etc.). An enhanced system with high resolution background graphics was released a bit later as the Philips G7400.

NAME  Videopac C52
ORIGIN  Netherlands
YEAR  1979
CONTROLLERS  Two 8-directions self-centered joysticks with fire button
CPU  Intel 8048 microcontroller
SPEED  1.79 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR  Video Display Controller (VDC): Custom Intel IC generating all audio & video
RAM  64 bytes (8048 internal RAM) + 128 bytes
ROM  1 KB (system BIOS)
GRAPHIC MODES  154 x 100
SOUND  Beeper
I/O PORTS  Cartridge slot
MEDIA  Cartridges
NUMBER OF GAMES  More than 60 cartridges
POWER SUPPLY  External power supply
PRICE  990 FF (France, 1980?)

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