Coleco Telstar

Telstar is a series of dedicated console much like the Magnavox Odyssey which was produced by Caleco  only between the years of 1976 and 1978. The series sold about one million units between its 14 console editions which began with a Pong clone running on General Instruments AY-3-8500 chip in 1976 meaning that Caleco was at minimum 2 consoles a year although the majority of the releases would come about in 1977 and 1978.

Telstar (model 6040, 1976):

Contain three different Pong variations, Hockey,  Handball, and Tennis. The controls were 2 paddles which were fixed on the console, and this was also the first game to usse the AY-3-8500 chip for its logic.

Telstar Classic (model 6045, 1976):

This edition was exactly the same as the original Telstar with the exception of the new deluxe wooden case.

Telstar Deluxe (1977):

This model was nicknamed the “Video World of Sports” and was also the same specifications as the original differing only in the fact that it had a brown case with a wooden panel and it was sold in the Canadian market using English and French text in the games.

Telstar Ranger (model 6046, 1977):

The Telstar Ranger was the first Telstar system to display and actual changes besides appearance. The Ranger offer four different pong variations which were Hockey, Tennis, Handball, Jai alai as well as the addition of gun games known as Target and Skeet. This package also included a plastic case which was black and white, a revolver model light gun, separate paddle controllers, and ran on the same AY-3-8500 chip that the previous Telstar consoles used.

Telstar Alpha (model 6030, 1977):

This release of the Telstar was the same as the previous Ranger including the black and white plastic case, however its paddles were fixed to the console and it did not come with the revolver light gun or shooting games leaving gamers with only the four variations of Pong , Hockey, Tennis, Handball and Jai Alai.

Telstar Colormatic (model 6130, 1977):

The Colormatic was simply a re-release of the Telstar Alpha except that it was capable of displaying in colored graphics and the paddles were once again detached wired controllers rather than fixed to the console. The Colormatic however did use two chips instead of one, the first was the AY-3-8500 and the second chip was the Texas Instruments SN76499N which was used to produce the colored graphics.

Telstar Regent (model 6036, 1977):

The Regent model was yet another reissue of a previous release this time taking the Colormatic model and stripping it of its color capability and removing the included black and white plastic case making the only substantial differences between it and the Alpha being that the Regent had detached wired controllers and that it did not come with any of the shooting games or the shooting accessories.

Telstar Sportsman (1978):

The Sportsman console was virtually the same as the previous Regent model however a couple of components were added to the design including a inclusion of a light gun and a few new setting switches which could be changed.

Telstar Combat! (model 6065, 1977):

The Telstar Combat! finally changed up the selection of games which was available and offered four different versions of Kee Games‘ Tank. The Combat! also once again returned back to four joysticks that were fixed to the console which allowed for the game to be played two players and the system used a General Instruments AY-3-8700 Tank chip to provide its logic capabilities.

Telstar Colortron (model 6135, 1978):

The Colortron model of the Telstar was once only offered the four variations of Pong or Hockey, Tennis, Handball, and Jai Alai although it did contain the capability of color graphics which hadn’t been used in the line since the Colormatic release as well as built in sound effect but once again the control paddles became fixed the console. The chip that was used in the Colortron model was the AY-3-8710 and it was the reason that the color graphics were possible.

Telstar Marksman (model 6136, 1978):

The Marksman model up to this point combined to largest number of components from previous releases into a single console. The Marksman had the standard four Pong variants of Hockey, Tennis, Handball, and Jai Alai as well as including the a larger light rifle that came with a folding stock.  Despite the fact that the light gun and the logic chip the AY-3-8512 received updates the controller paddles were still fixed to the console.

Telstar Galaxy:

The Galaxy release used separate joysticks while continuing to use the fixed paddles. Another modification from the past was a change in the two different chips, the AY-3-8600 was used for games and the AY-3-8615 was used for as the color encoder.

Telstar Gemini (1978):

The Gemini once again rotated the game selection and offered four different pinball games and two light gun games which were in color. The Gemini also came with a light gun as well as various pinball controls including bumpers on the left and right sides of the case, a pinball launch button, and field adjustment sliders on the top. The Gemini used a different type of chip and a MOS Technology that was run by the MPS 7600-004 chip.

Telstar Arcade (1977):

This Telstar console was a cartridge based system which differs it from the other models, and it came with a variety of accessories including a triangular case, a light gun, a steering wheel with gear shift, and 2 paddles (one on each side). Each individual cartridge included a custom MOS Technology MPS 7600 chip (one of which was used with the Gemini console). The chips each contained specific custom driven logic circuits which were driven by a very basic processor which used a tiny program that was stored in ROM.

Around 1980 with impending time in which the Pong machines would become outdated and the unbelievably large lineup of products nearly led Coleco down the path to bankruptcy.


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