Fairchild Channel F - Fairchild Video Entertainment System





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Fairchild Channel F

The Fairchild Channel F, short for "Channel Fun", was the first video game console to use ROM cartridges, instead of having games built-in, and the first console to use a microprocessor. It was released by Fairchild Camera and Instrument in November 1976 across North America at a retail price of US $169.95 (equivalent to $810 in 2021). It was launched as the "Video Entertainment System", but when Atari, Inc. released its Video Computer System the next year, Fairchild rebranded their machine as "Channel F" while keeping the Video Entertainment System descriptor.

The Fairchild Channel F achieved only about 350,000 units before Fairchild sold the technology to Zircon International in 1979, trailing well behind the VCS. The system was discontinued in 1983.

Technical Specifications of Fairchild Channel F

  • Processor: Fairchild F8 at a clock frequency of 1.79 MHz
  • RAM: 64 bytes
  • Video RAM: 2 KB (2×128×64 bits)
  • Screen resolution: 128 × 64 pixels, visible field - 102 × 58 pixels
  • Color: 8 colors (each line is either black/white or 4-color)
  • Sound: 500 Hz, 1 kHz or 1.5 kHz tone (they could be quickly switched to get other tones)
  • Input devices: Two proprietary game controllers hard-wired to the console
  • Video output: the cable is connected to the antenna input of the TV, rigidly connected to the console