Search
Site Sections

Fairchild Channel F FAQ

Rec.games.video.classic
Fairchild Channel F FAQ
cdyer@best.com
&
cwebb@earthlink.net

Version 2, May 25, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997 Clinton R. Dyer & Chris Webb

All right reserved. This document may be copied, in whole or in part, by any means
provided the copyright and contributors sections remain intact and no fee is charged for
the information. Contributors retain the copyright to their individual contributions.

The data herein is provided for informational purposes only. No warranty is made with
regards to the accuracy of this information.

These people knowingly (or unknowingly) helped with the information contained in this
FAQ.

Dave Ross (z956832@oats.farm.niu.edu)
Jay Tilton (tiltonj@erols.com)
Russ Perry (slapdash@execpc.com)
Sascha (imueller@student.uni-kl.de)

Needs and such: Well, pretty much everything and everything!
-Game Ratings. I'd like to get 3 or 4 numbers to average out, because the numbers
contained here are only my opinions. Keep in mind when rating games that most of
these games were early, so try and rate them to games on the Fairchild system, and not
against later systems.
-Information on the Fairchild Newsletter
-System specs
-Timeline information
-Repair information
-Anything anyone would like to see. This FAQ is for you, so if there's something you
want to see, let me know!

1. Introduction
2. Timeline
3. System specs
3a. System information - Original Channel F
3b. System information - Zircon Channel F System II
3c. System information - Luxor Video Entertainment Channel F
3d. System information - Grandstand
3e. System information - Saba Videoplay
3f. System information - ITT Tele-Match Processor
4. Game list/etc.
4a. Cartridge Summary
4b. Box/Cartridge variations
4c. Fairchild newsletter
4d. TV show appearance - "POW!"
4e. Catalogs and other paraphernalia
4f. Rumors and other myths
5. Repair information
5a. The base unit
5b. Controllers
5c. Why won't my games work?

1. Introduction

Why did I decide to do a Fairchild Channel F system FAQ?

Good question! I can't say this system is the most popular system of all time or has the
best games of all time, but it's always held a special place in my heart. It was my first
cart based video game system, and really the only gaming system I've ever had that
everyone in my family could play and compete at (even my mom wasn't bad at
Bowling).

I've heard it said before: "this system's horrible", "these games stink", "the 2600 did
that so much better", etc. and I just have to say one thing to those people: It was the
first programmable cartridge system -- what do you want? All that had ever been seen
at the Fairchild's release was Pong, and this was a big step up. It actually contained
different cartridges, instead of flipping a switch to change the game options. The
graphics, which consist primarily of large blocks, were groundbreaking at the
beginning, but when better systems were released, failed to compare.

Towards the end, Zircon Intl. bought the system rights from Fairchild, released a new
system, called strangely enough Channel F System 2, and a total of 5 games before the
system passed away.

2. Timeline

1976 - Fairchild releases the Channel F cart based video game system
1976-1978/9? - Fairchild releases 21 different carts for their Channel F system
1978/79? - Zircon buys the rights to the Channel F system
1978/79? - Zircon releases Channel F System 2
1978/79? - The last cartridge for the system is produced (#26 Alien Invasion)

3. System Specs

3a. Channel F system 1 - Catalog #FVE-100 (Fairchild), #FR800 (Zircon)

Very 70's look to it. Power supply and controllers are hard-wired to the console.
There was a smoked plastic lid that hid the controllers and a dust cloth inside. On top
of the lid, there was a silver aluminum sticker that read Fairchild Channel F across the
sticker. The RF cord was hard wired into the unit and the speaker was built into the
unit.

Channel F system pin-outs:

Female connector
----------------
5 4 3 2 1
9 8 7 6

Pin Function
--- --------
1 Twist left
2 Twist right
3 Pull up
4 Push down
5 Right
6 Up
7 Down
8 Left
9 Common

3b. Channel F System 2 - Catalog #FN808, #FVE300

Same chip set/etc., with removable controllers, sound on the TV and controller holders
attached to the back of the unit instead of being contained in a compartment inside it.
Uses all cartridges made for the Channel F system. (The factory refurbished unit was
catalog #FR800).

3c. Luxor Video Entertainment system (Sweden)

??

3d. Grandstand [Great Britain]

??

3e. Saba Videoplay [Germany]

According to the description of the US unit, it seems to be a combination of the
Channel F System 1 and System 2. It is quite big, all black, and it features the storage
compartment for the controllers. The controllers are hardwired into the unit (they may
be removable from the inside, however). There is a gigantic shield casing around the
board (same as the US model). Sound is played through the TV and it has a cartridge
eject button. There is a sticker on the back of the unit and another one inside. The one
on inside says "Saba Videoplay 2" whereas one on the top just says "Saba Videoplay".
The unit has a built-in auto-switchbox (again like the US model).

Some of the carts (e.g. Schach) feature german text onscreen.

3f. ITT Tele-Match Processor [Germany]

ITT put it out as the "ITT Tele-Match Processor". It has a totally different design than
the Saba. It is much smaller (no storage compartment), made of black plastic with an
aluminium front. Its overall look reminds me a little of a small VCR. Sound on TV.
No controller holders, no cartridge eject button (you just pull them out). Built-in Pong
games, built-in automatic switchbox. The controllers are removable, but you have to
open the system and plug them off the board. In contrary to the 70's design of the
Saba, the ITT version has more of an early 80's product, so I assume it had been
released after the Saba (this is a little vague, I know). But I think the Saba Videoplay is
more common.

4. Game list/etc.

Key:
# of Players:
1 a 1 player game only,
1/2 a 1 or 2 player game,
2 a 2 player simultaneous game,

Rating:
Game play rating from 1 to 5. 1 being the worst, 5 being the best.
Rarity:
C Common
UC Uncommon
R Rare
ER Extremely Rare
IR Incredibly Rare

In the ratings column, the first score is Clint's, the second is Chris'.

4a. Cartridge Summary

Fairchild Channel F (American)
Luxor (Sweden; Swedish labels over American carts)
Saba (Germany)

# Name of Game; # Players; Game Type; Rating; Rarity
1; Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle; 1/2; Misc; 1/1; C
1; Lerduveskytte / Luffarschack / Kaleidoskop / Rita Själv (Luxor)
1; Muehle / Tontauben-Schiessen / Kreatives Malspiel / Videoscope (Saba)
2; Desert Fox/Shooting Gallery; 1/2; Shooter; 2/2; UC
2; Lerduveskytte / Ökenkrig (Luxor)
2; Wuestenfuchs / Tontaubenschiessen (Saba)
3; Video Blackjack; 1/2; Casino Game; 2/4; UC
3; "21" 1 Eller 2 Spelare (Luxor)
3; Blackjack (Saba)
4; Spitfire; 1/2; Shooter; 4/5; UC
4; Luftkampf (Saba)
5; Space War; 1/2; Shooter; 3/3; UC
5; Rymdkrig (Luxor)
5; Kampf Im Weltraum (Saba)
6; Math Quiz 1 (Addition/Subtraction); 1; Educational; 2/1; R
6; Matematik (Luxor)
6; Magische Zahlen (Saba)
7; Math Quiz 2 (Multiplication/Division); 1; Educational; 2/1; R
7; Matematik (Luxor)
7; Autorennen (Saba)
8; Magic Numbers/Mind reader/Nim; 1; Puzzle; 4/1; UC
8; Master Mind (Magiska Tal) (Luxor)
8; Labyrinth (Saba)
9; Drag Race; 1/2; Driving; 4/4; UC
9; Backgammon / Acey Deucy (Saba)
10; Maze / Jailbreak / Blind Man's Bluff / Trailblazer; 2; Puzzle; 5/5; UC
10; Labyrint / Rymning / Blindbock / Stigfinnare (Luxor)
10; Baseball (Saba)
11; Backgammon / Acey-Deucey; 1/2; Board Game; 5/5; C
11; Brädspel / Dus-Ess (Luxor)
11; Robot-Jagd / Torpedo (Saba)
12; Baseball; 2; Sports; 3/3; C
12; Baseball (Luxor)
12; Sonar-Peilung (Saba)
13; Robot War / Torpedo Alley; 2; Shooter; 4/4; UC
13; Robotjakt / Torpedskjutning (Luxor)
13; Memory (Symbole) / Memory (Ziffern) (Saba)
14; Sonar Search; 1/2; Puzzle; 3/2; R
14; Voelkerball (Saba)
15; Memory Match; 1/2; Puzzle; 2/2; UC
15; Barriere (Saba)
16; Dodge It; 1/2; Driving; 4/5; UC
16; Rymmare-Fasttagare (Luxor)
16; Rat' Mal (Saba)
17; Pinball Challenge; 2; Sports; 5/4; ER
17; Kickball (Saba)
18; Hangman; 2; Puzzle; 4/3; R
18; Ordtavling (Luxor)
18; Bowling (Saba)
19;* Checkers; 2; Board Game; ?/3; IR
19; Odyssee Im Weltraum (Saba)
20; Video Whizball; 1/2; Sports; 4/5; R
20;*1 Schach (Saba)
21; Bowling; 1/2; Sports; 5/5; ER
22;* Slot Machine; 1/2; Casino Game; ?/2; IR
23;* Galactic Space Wars/Lunar Lander; 2; Shooter; 3/3; R
24;* Pro Football; 2; Sports; 3/5; ER
25;* Casino Poker; 1/2; Casino Game; ?/3; ER
26;* Alien Invasion; 1/2; Shooter; 4/5; IR
N/A Democart; N/A; Demo; ?/?; IR
N/A Democart 2; N/A; Demo; ?/?; IR
KB-1 Keyboard Cartridge + Keypad; N/A; ??; ??; NR

* = Zircon releases
*1 = This one is definitely chess, NOT checkers. On the side where the small label is,
the cartridge has a red LED that lights when the computer is thinking about his next
move. On the circuit board (filling the entire cartridge) it says: "Fairchild Memory
Systems (c) 1979". So we might have a European- (Germany-) only release here?

4b. Box/Cartridge variations

I used to be a heavy variation collector, and although I don't collect them anymore, I
thought there might be some people out there who do. So, what I'm going to do is list
all the boxes I have (or have had), and you can check yours to make sure they match.
Here's the key:

Box types:
R = Standard rainbow (From the box end, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red)
RF = Standard rainbow with a big F instead of the "Fairchild" logo
BR = Standard rainbow with a black stripe added before the blue stripe
BRF = Standard rainbow with a black stripe added before the blue stripe, and a big F
instead of the "Fairchild" logo (I haven't found one of these, but figure they probably
exist, so I'd throw it in)
NR = No Rainbow
W = White box (Zircon released all the white boxes)
Zircon = Zircon version of the game. Most Zircon versions have a sticker on the back
of the cartridge, whereas the Fairchild carts don't.

# NAME; BOX TYPES
1 Tic-Tac-Toe/Etc; BR, RF, (Zircon)
2 Desert Fox/Shooting Gallery; BR
3 Video Blackjack; BR
4 Spitfire; BR
5 Space War; BR
6 Math Quiz 1; BR
7 Math Quiz 2; BR
8 Magic Numbers/Mind reader/Nim; BR
9 Drag Strip; BR
10 Maze; RF
11 Backgammon/Acey-Deucey; RF
12 Baseball; RF
13 Robot War/Torpedo Alley; RF
14 Sonar Search; RF
15 Memory Match 1 & 2; RF
16 Dodge It; RF
17 Pinball Challenge; RF
18 Hangman; NR
19 Checkers; ?
20 Video Whizball; NR
21 Bowling; NR
22 Slot Machine; NR, (Zircon)
23 Galactic Space Wars/Lunar Lander; W (Zircon)
24 Pro Football; W (Zircon)
25 Casino Royale; ?
26 Alien Invasion; W (Zircon)
Built-in games (US only?) - Hockey, Tennis and 2 drawing programs
Demo Demonstration Cartridge; ?
Demo 2 Demonstration Cartridge 2; ?

4c. Fairchild newsletter

First and only known newsletter, featured descriptions of carts 1-9, with preview
descriptions of carts 10-12. Dated October 1977. Mentions that Carts 10-12 should be
out by November 1977.

4d. TV show appearance - "POW!"

Chris:
A long time ago there was a local independent TV station (Ch. 11 in Los Angeles) that
had a contest where kids would call in and try to win prizes. The game featured
"Shooting Gallery" on the TV screen, and the contestant would shout "Pow!" when
they wanted the gun to fire. If they could hit 10 ducks in 30 seconds, they won a $100
prize or some other small prize. The unique thing is that this was the only time a video
game system was used on TV as part of a game show. This "show" may have aired in
other states as well.

Clint:
I remember this also! I don't remember the name of the actual show, but this was a
feature of the show (callers calling in and playing the game for minimal prizes). The
show was an hour long variety show, and if it sounds semi-familiar, then Charlie and
Humphry should also sound familiar. They (dogs) did skits to teach kids the difference
between right and wrong (the skit I remember most was "1001 stupid things to do --
borrowing without asking" -- yes, you had to see it). The show ran on channel 2 in the
Bay Area, and Pat McCormick was both the voice of the two dogs and the real host.

4e. Catalogs and other paraphernalia

"Channel F has a lot more fun in store for you." Catalog includes carts #1 - 17. Also
of note is that the cart labels on the front are different from anything I've seen before.
They have a big picture with a small amount of text, the Video cart # and the Fairchild
logo at the bottom. Weird!

Version A: "Now playing on Fairchild's Channel F System II". This pamphlet
includes the 1979 lineup. It show screen shots of carts 1-25, not including carts 4, 7,
19, 22. The back of the pamphlet lists carts 1-24. The pamphlet ID# is CI 202520.

Version B: "Now playing on Fairchild's Channel F System II". This pamphlet looks
exactly like the above mentioned, except it lists iron on the back panel instead of
Fairchild. The carts also have changed Catalog #'s which are now numbered C0XX
(XX meaning Cart #).

Zircon sales flyer: featured an order form and sales descriptions on brand new carts #
19, 22, 23, 24. On the back they offered a special Holiday Package that included
System 2 Console, and Carts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. This flyer was one page typed front
and back, and was dated October 1980.

Zircon Service flyer: a 1/3 page flyer that pitched buying or upgrading your console
for $99.95 new or $59.95 refurbished. On the back it featured a $47.00 service offer,
but does not specify what they do to the unit other than replacing lost or broken parts.

Microtronix Sales Flyer - This company was located in Philadelphia, PA. They
offered refurbished and new units, as well as some carts.

4f. Rumors and other Myths

According to the System 2 Box, there was a black cartridge and a numeric Keypad.
According to the picture the cart is called "Casino Royal" (same as cart 25?) and
numbered K-1.

5. Repair Information

5a. Base unit

It is doubtful that the console would develop a problem. We have not found any
schematics yet for the unit. One good hint to keep in mind, if you drag out your
system from storage to play with it, be sure to let it sit at room temperature for at least
2 days before you turn it on for the first time. This will allow the unit to "warm up" to
room temperature. I you don't do this, when you turn on a cold unit directly out of
storage, you may pop a chip!

5b. Controllers

If you have ever seen one of the controllers, you know that they are unique in their
design. They kind of resemble a dynamite detonator, with a control knob that had 8
basic movements: up/down/left/right/twist left/twist right/pull up/pull down. The
controller worked on contacts, somewhat like the Atari 2600. The inside of the
controller featured a metal ring that surrounded the stick that accomplished movement
on the screen.

The downside to these controllers is that they had very cheap wiring, along the lines of
22 gauge or smaller. If the controllers were not carefully handled, a wire would break
either inside the controller or in the wire leading to the console. I have not been
successful yet in finding a way to repair these units.

In a future update, I'll try to provide a pin-out of the 9 pin plug so a replacement cord
can be possibly wired to the controller.

5c. Why won't my cartridges work?

The system as a whole has never given me trouble. If you insert the cartridges firmly
into the console, they should work. A little preventative maintenance also helps, such
as cleaning the gold edge of a cartridge with Denatured alcohol. Also keeping the
console and carts free of lint and dust helps ensure good performance. 
Base Media

Copyright © 2000 - 2020 Base Media. All Rights Reserved. Console Database is a trademark of Base Media. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the Base Media User Agreement and Privacy Policy. Our other sites: Deals United - Daily Deals Aggregator and WhichPlug? - Travel Adaptor Finder.