Channel F

Console published 48 years ago by Fairchild

Listed in MAME

Channel F screenshot

Channel F © 1976 Fairchild.

A home video game console.

Built-in games: Tennis, Hockey

Tennis: a simple Pong variant. Two players compete by passing back and forth a ball with paddles. If a player misses the ball, his opponent gets a point. In Tennis, the players can choose from 4 different game speeds. A round can be configured to end as soon as one player reaches a score of 15, or after a time limit of 2, 5, 10, or 20 minutes.

Hockey: an extended version of the Pong concept. Two players try to get the ball to land in their opponent's goal. The paddles can be moved not only up and down, but all across the playfield. They can even be tilted to have the ball reflect in another direction. In addition to the main paddles, both players also have a special goalkeeper paddle that they can move up and down between the poles. There are four ball speeds to choose from. Matches end when either one of the players reaches a score of 15, or after a time limit of 2, 5, 10, or 20 minutes. If the game ends in a tie, the players can decide to play 1 minute of overtime.


CPU: Fairchild F8
RAM: 64 bytes
COLORS: 8, only four different colors per line, unless black/white palette were chosen, then only these two colors on the whole line.
SOUND: First models : played through the console, built-in speaker; System II : played through TV


Released in November 1976 in the USA at the retail price of $169.95. For perspective, $169.95 in 1976 is equal to $725.32 in 2017.

The unit was launched as the Video Entertainment System, or VES, but when Atari released their VCS the next year, Fairchild renamed its machine.

The Channel F has the distinction of being the first programmable ROM cartridge–based video game console, and the first console to use a microprocessor.

Sometime in 1979, Zircon International bought the rights to the Channel F and released the re-designed console as the Channel F System II to compete with Atari's VCS. This re-designed System II was completed by Nick Talesfore at Fairchild. He was the same industrial designer who designed the original game console. Only six new games were released after the debut of the second system before its demise, several of which were developed at Fairchild before they sold it off.

The major changes were in design, with the controllers removable from the base unit instead of being wired directly into it; the controller storage was moved to the rear of the unit, and the sound was now mixed into the RF TV signal so the unit no longer needed a speaker. Electronics was also simplified with custom logic chips instead of standard logic resulting in a much smaller circuit board. This version also featured a simpler and more modern-looking case design.

The Channel F was exported to Europe and licensed to several companies over there. Th elist of licensed Channel F consoles:
Adman Grandstand Video Entertainment Computer (UK)
Adman Grandstand Video Entertainment Computer System 2(UK)
Barco Challenger (Belgium)
Dumont Channel F (Italy)
Emerson Channel F (Italy)
ITT Telematch Processor (Germany)
Luxor Video Entertainment System (Sweden)
Luxor Video Entertainment Computer (Sweden)
Nordmende Color TelePlay (Germany)
Saba Videoplay (Germany)
Saba Videoplay 2 (Germany)

Cartridge list (for all Channel F systems):
"Videocart-1": Tic-Tac-Toe, Shooting Gallery, Doodle, Quadra-Doodle
"Videocart-2": Desert Fox, Shooting Gallery
"Videocart-3": Video Blackjack
"Videocart-4": Spitfire
"Videocart-5": Space War
"Videocart-6": Math Quiz I (Addition & Subtraction)
"Videocart-7": Math Quiz II (Multiplication & Division)
"Videocart-8": Magic Numbers (Mind Reader & Nim)
"Videocart-9": Drag Race
"Videocart-10": Maze, Jailbreak, Blind-Man's-Bluff, Trailblazer
"Videocart-11": Backgammon, Acey-Deucey
"Videocart-12": Baseball
"Videocart-13": Robot War, Torpedo Alley
"Videocart-14": Sonar Search
"Videocart-15": Memory Match 1, Memory Match 2
"Videocart-16": Dodge' It
"Videocart-17": Pinball Challenge
"Videocart-18": Hangman
"Videocart-19": Checkers
"Videocart-20": Video Whizball
"Videocart-21": Bowling
"Videocart-22": Slot Machine
"Videocart-23": Galactic Space Wars
"Videocart-24": Pro Football
"Videocart-25": Casino Poker
"Videocart-26": Alien Invasion
"Schach Model 20]"(this chess game was a Saba German exclusive, it had #20 in the Saba Videoplay catalog)
"Democart 2"

in 2009 a Pac-Man game was developed and released on a cartridge as Videocart -27 complete with box and instruction booklet.


Designed by: Jerry Lawson


Machine's bios.
Machine's picture.