Vectrex Brought Real Arcade Play Home (and had a Light Pen!)

In 1982, while I was playing video games with rasterized graphics on my family TV, other smarter kids (I am talking about my friend Sean) were across the street in their dimly lit, but well carpeted living rooms playing games with vector graphics on their Vectrex. I say they were smarter, because the Vectrex was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only did it have its own vector monitor that played games that looked exactly like the arcade, but it had a light pen!

Oh light pen! You were the bees knees. Don’t laugh at what you don’t understand. While wildly inefficient, the light pen was the input device equivalent of a lightsaber in the early 80s. I cannot confirm why, but I personally believe it was because proto-geek Mathew Broderick wielded one in Wargames with such aplomb and efficiency.

The Vectrex was distributed by Milton Bradley and was well thought of by consumers at the time. Sadly it came out at the tail end of the video game boom and like most systems, it did not survive the crash of 1983, despite price drops. In 1984, the Vectrex was discontinued.

Need to see this bad boy in action? Check out this commercial…

Now I know a lot of you think your are old skool with your Atari 2600 and Intellivision. But if you really want to let your geek flag fly, stop on by eBay or check out you local garage sales and pick up a Vectrex. It might be a rare find, but fellow blogger Amelyn picked one up at a garage sale so keep your eyes peeled for this rare gem.

I can guarantee that if you plunk one of these bad-boys down on your desk at work, you will need to chase your co-workers away with a stick. You might even impress your boss enough that he will let you work on the Henderson account. Who knows. With Vectrex, the sky’s the limit!

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Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
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5 thoughts on “Vectrex Brought Real Arcade Play Home (and had a Light Pen!)

  1. It always blows my mind to think of how many systems were floating around back in those days. My desire to own them all would’ve driven me insane.

    Luckily, NES was the only game in town for me.

  2. Just a few things I forgot to mention: I may have paid $75 for my Vectrex but, it came with its original box, including the styrofoam holders, and I had four games with all their overlays, except for Scramble’s. All long as the system is working fine, I call this a real bargain!

  3. metagirl says:

    Could that joystick be any smaller? It looks like you have to tweeze it between two fingers. I like the Atari joystick that you could grab with your whole hand…at least when your hand was little girl size.

  4. This was the only game system to really rival the Atari gaming systems and games on the Atari computer in the 1980s, because it was the only game system that did something completely different.

    No block graphics on the Vectrex – point to point line graphics and smooth as silk animation. A little glimpse into the future and past at the same time makes this little machine kind of timeless.

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