Signetics 2650 & 2636 programming/Introduction

Manufacturers
  • Acetronic MPU 1000/2000Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • Audiosonic PP-1292/1392 Advanced Programmable Video SystemFlag of the Netherlands.svg
  • Aureac Tele ComputerFlag of Spain.svg
  • Fountain Force 2Flag of New Zealand.svg
  • Fountain 1292/1392 Advanced Programmable Video SystemFlag of New Zealand.svg
  • Grandstand Advanced Programmable Video SystemFlag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • Grundig Super Play Computer 4000Flag of Germany.svg
  • Hanimex HMG 1292/1392 Advanced Programmable Video SystemFlag of Australia.svg
  • Interton VC 4000Flag of Germany.svg
  • ITMC Vidéo Ordinateur MPT-05Flag of France.svg
  • Karvan Jeu Video TVFlag of France.svg
  • Lansay 1392Flag of France.svg
  • Palson CX-3000 Data Bass SistemFlag of Spain.svg
  • Prinztronic VC-6000Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • Radofin 1292/1392 Advanced Programmable Video SystemFlag of Germany.svg
  • Rowtron Television Computer SystemFlag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • Societe Occitane Electronique OC-2000Flag of France.svg
  • Teleng Television Computer SystemFlag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • TRQ Video Computer H-21Flag of Spain.svg
  • Videomaster DatabaseFlag of the United Kingdom.svg
  • Voltmace DatabaseFlag of the United Kingdom.svg

Note: Flags indicate primary country of the company. Many consoles were available in multiple countries.

This book is a guide to programming a family of video game consoles based on the Signetics 2650 microprocessor and 2636 Programmable Video Interface. These consoles were manufactured and marketed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by numerous companies in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They are largely software-compatible, though there are physical differences in the games cartridges. Some of the joysticks are self-centering while others are not. The audio effects circuitry and colour circuitry may vary too.

This book will initially concentrate on the Videomaster / Voltmace Database, as that is the console I have to work with. When differences are documented from reliable sources, they will be discussed here where appropriate. I stress reliable as there seems to be a lot of badly sourced misinformation about these consoles on the web.

Readers should have some basic knowledge of assembler level programming, perhaps with processors of a similar vintage such as the 6502 or Z80. A little background in digital and analogue electronics would be helpful too. The glossary and bibliography will include basic information and links to further reading to fill in gaps in knowledge concerning these fundamentals.

This book starts with a description of the hardware of the console, and information about the microprocessor and programmable video interface. The intent is to keep these sections concise yet detailed so that they serve as a handy reference for programmers. This is followed by a series of tutorials showing how to program the various elements of the console so that eventually the reader will have enough knowledge to build their own games. Code for these tutorials will be found in the appendices. It is intended that this code will not only make it easy for the reader to gain hands-on experience, but will also provide useful chunks of code that can be built upon to create more useful programs. A second set of tutorials will delve further into code that combines these basic elements into something more interactive.

My objective in starting this book is to encourage the creation of new games for these consoles.