Vectrex Games Console by GCE / Milton Bradley
The Vectrex is a classic "portable"(ish) games console built in 1982, featuring a built in vector based screen, and as such, is to this day, still the only console to make use of dedicated vector graphics.
In this sense, it is quite unique, having no peers, either among retro gaming consoles, or contemporary systems. Indeed, the only console that could claim comparable uniqueness is Nintendo's Virtual Boy, with it's built in stereoscopic 3D display.
The Vectrex games console was designed by Jay Smith, who at one time worked on the Apollo space program, and Gerry Karr, who Smith met later while working for Milton Bradley.
They initially had an idea for a handheld gaming system, to play games styled on Asteroids and Tempest, with a 1" screen, though this proved problematic. Then in 1980, workers for Smith's company, Smith Engineering / Western Technologies, found a cheap supply of 5" monitors, and it was decided to use these for the project.
While looking for investors, they met with Ed Krakauer, who worked on Intellivision for Mattel and went on to found his own company, General Consumer Electronics (GCE).
Krakauer liked their design, and said that if they used a larger screen, he'd be interested, which is how the Vectrex console came to feature the 9" vector monitor.
The vertical orientation of the monitor was chosen to differentiate the screen from that of a TV, while the length of the joypad was dictated by the size of the hole it was required to fill. 4 buttons were used simply to use up the available space on the pad, as was the choice of an analogue stick.
Minestorm, an Asteroids clone, was included as a built in game, while many of the first batch of games were licensed from Cinematronics, all of which included the obligatory coloured screen overlay. The coders largely hated these, but the marketing men insisted.
The system launched in the USA in Nov 1982 for $199.
At around this time, Milton Bradley bought CGE and the Vectrex, and pumped money into advertising, taking on the likes of Atari and Intellivision, and also taking the system into Europe. The Vectrex was also licensed to Bandai in Japan, where it was known as Kousokuseb, but like many western gaming devices sold in Japan, it failed to sell in any numbers.
Unfortunately for GCE, and fans of the Vectrex, while all of this was happening, the 80s video games crash was in full swing. The buying public, sick of being fobbed off with overpriced, underdeveloped, and frankly rubbish games... see Pac-Man and ET on the Atari 2600 for prime examples, simply stopped buying games, regardless of the system. So while Vectrex games were generally of a decent standard, no-one bought them, and by early 1984, MB wound up GCE and sold off their remaining Vectrex stocks at knock down prices.
Developments and Peripherals
A number of new devices were designed around '83, including a colour Vectrex, which never made it beyond prototyping, and a light pen and 3D imaging headset, which did. The 3D headset is now an extremely collectable item, and very hard to find.
MB Vectrex Games - Gameplay Video Clips With Commentary