(August 1976-1977)


Here is Zircon's Channel F System II, an altered version of the Fairchild VES.

The rather unknown Fairchild Camera & Instrument company would make gaming history as they would be the first to release a fully functional game system that can play interchangeable cartridges in 1976. Just a year before Atari would release the Atari VCS in 1977. The system was the Fairchild Video Entertainment System and it debut at the price at 169.99 US.

The system came included with two long dial based joysticks where you press on the top of the head and that would act as a button if needed. The system also has a built in Hockey/Tennis game included as well, a game that was very similar to Atari popular Pong.

Perhaps the system's biggest selling point was the fact you could change the game which is something you couldn't do in the regular Pong-like games that were flooding the market at the time. The Fairchild VES uses bright yellow cartridges to play several different games so the Atari 2600 was not the first machine to use interchangeable cartridges like many believe.

Despite a promising idea, the Fairchild VES just didn't catch on and the 21 games weren't all that captivating enough to hold anybody's interest. Fairchild would later sell the system to Zircon and they re-released the machine in 1981 as the Channel F System II with 5 more games but even its second name could not save this system and it died a quiet death in 1984.

Bottomline: Both systems are a tough find for collectors because it wasn't too successful but it's worth looking into for all you game collectors. Can you find all 26 game Fairchild/Channel F cartridges?

Rare scale: 6/10 you won't find this at Wal-Mart, folks!