A Bit of Vectrex History
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Let me begin with an apology ‑ of sorts.

I'm John Hall and over 30 years ago, I was hired by Western Technologies to be a member of the Breaker team. Along with Mark Indictor and Paul Allen Newell, we had the task of reverse engineering the Atari 2600, writing our documentation and then creating original 2600 games.

Paul started the Atari version of Towering Inferno. Mark started Star Trek. I began a game called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which was later renamed MAD: USA vs. USSR. More about Breaker can be found on the Project Breaker and the 6502 Vectrex page.

When Western Technologies found General Consumers Electronics (GCE) as the investor for Vectrex, the three of us put Breaker on the shelf and shifted our focus to the Vectrex.

Even though the design of the Vectrex was still in flux, we began to create our games. Paul was doing Scramble. Mark did a Vectrex version of Star Trek. I began writing Mine Storm, which was intended as the resident game.

When we finished our games, the three of us resigned from Western Technologies. Mark and I were later hired by GCE as game designers. Paul was retained by Western Technologies as a consultant to finish a game for US Games.

While at GCE, Mark wrote Spinball, Mail Plane, Tour de France and Polar Rescue. I wrote Fortress of Narzod and Dark Tower.

When the Vectrex came to an end, I moved to the Eastern Sierras (with no tv, intermittent phone service and a radio that received just a couple of very local stations). I eventually moved back to the Los Angeles area and returned to engineering by hiring into Teradata's R&D.

Starting early in my career, I had a habit where I wrote my own documentation. Doing so gave me a better idea of what I was trying to accomplish. Sometimes I shared this documentation, but generally I didn't.

It wasn't that I was being selfish or secretive, it's just that my attempt at documentation was always incomplete, of low priority and based on my understanding of the moment ‑ which can be shaky at best.

Moving on from Vectrex and doing a poor job of keeping in touch, I never realized the interest and enthusiasm that continued amongst the Vectrex community. Recently I was asked to help with an article about Dark Tower and while double-checking my answers, I realized that I had squirreled away a great deal of information and that there might still be some interest in it.

For those of you who share an interest in the Vectrex, I want to apologize for not sharing this information with you sooner. I hope these pages from my Vectrex collection makes some sort of amends.

Since the server for RoadsideThoughts has some free space, I've placed these pages with my current project, RoadsideThoughts ‑ a Gazetteer for the United States and Canada.

To see the information I've prepared, click on the 'Index...' button in the upper right corner.

In Closing ...

I should mention that I have moved several times over the last 30 years and I can't be sure of the completeness of what I have placed here. I'm afraid that my rat's nest has been stirred many times and I know that some of my boxes have been lost over the years.

With a nod to Pliny, take what you find here with a grain of salt.

I mentioned above that I was asked to help with an article about Dark Tower ‑ more properly, it was a chapter in a book titled The Games That Weren't, written by Frank Gasking. Frank's and Paul Newell's questions and discussion led to these Vectrex pages being added to RoadsideThoughts.


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This page was last modified/updated: 04 Feb 2024