Arcadia 2001 - The Little System That Didn't

Emerson 1982

Small Vision

Located in video game development hotbed Parsippany, New Jersey, Emerson Radio Corp. is a manufacturer of low-rent electronic equipment such as televisions, VCRs, radios and microwaves. At the June 1982 CES show in Chicago they debut the Arcadia 2001, later releasing the system and retailing it for 200 dollars U.S.. Inside its compact cabinet is an 8-bit 3.58 MHz Signetics 2650 CPU, powering a eight colour video display allowing four moving sprites onscreen at any one time with a screen resolution of 208 x 108. It sports a paltry 1K internal RAM, with the game cartridges packing 8K. Its graphics capability is a bit better than the Atari VCS, but only on par with the Intellivision, itself already a two year old system. The sound capability is a piddling one tone, accompanied by a noise generator. The Arcadia‘s controls are a clever innovation on the Intellivision; they feature control discs into which plastic sticks can be screwed for that Atari controller feeling. They also ape Mattel and Coleco’s consoles by having a 12 button keypad for use with game overlays, along with two fire buttons. There is space on the top cover to store the controllers when not in use, although no place to put the cords.

The Lost Arcadia

35 carts are eventually produced for the system, in two different size formats, with names like Tanks A Lot, Baseball, Crazy Gobbler and Space Attack. The larger dimensions of the game cartridge format rivals the size of a Sony Betamax videotape. Despite these rather gargantuan carts, the Arcadia is considered the first portable videogame system not only for its overall diminutive size, but also for the fact it has the capability to run off any 12V DC power supply, like a car battery.

Click button to play Space Attack on the Emerson Arcadia 2001

The Arcadia goes under a number of aliases world-wide; in Canada it’s known as the Leisure-Vision, Germany the Hanimex HMG-2650 and Tele-Fever, Italy the Leonardo and in New Zealand it carries the moniker Video Master. Its release in the U.S. comes the same year as the graphics powerhouse ColecoVision, and the poor Arcadia is immediately relegated to the fringe, failing to make even a minor dent before the market falls apart in 1983-84. Its most lasting legacy probably results from the legal tussle Emerson engages in with third-party game manufacturer Arcadia, makers of the Supercharger VCS enhancer, over their name. Arcadia is eventually renamed Starpath, and ends up folded into Epyx.

Along with the Arcadia 2001, Emerson also promises to join the plethora of companies making computer add-ons for the Atari 2600 with its TCI-16 piggy-back keyboard, which would play Arcadia 2001 games along with Atari carts. It never sees the light of day. logo_stop

Sources (Click to view)

Arcade Express newsletter, Vol. One, Number One, Aug. 15 1982 –
Amigan Software present Emerson Arcadia 2001 Central –
Electronic Games, “Players Guide to Programmable Videogames – Whatever Happened To…”, pg. 82, Nov 1983 – Emerson Arcadia 2001 Information –

Image of Arcadia 2001 with TDE watermark taken by William Hunter at the Videogame History Museum exhibit, CGE 2014 in Las Vegas
RetroNi. “Emerson Arcadia 2001 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies, 20 Apr. 2018, Box art for Tanks A Lot, Baseball, Space Attack and Cat Trax.
Computer Closet Collection – Emerson Arcadia 2001
Index of /Logos_500jpgs/images – Index of /Logos_500jpgs/images
Prince, Suzan D. “Game Workout: Arcadia 2001.” Comp. Scottithgames. Electronic Fun with Computers & Games May 1983: 38-41. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2022. Emerson is preparing to roll out an Atari VCS piggy-back unit, the TCI-16, a keyboard which turns the Atari system into a computer and allows playing of Emerson-as well as Atari-campatible software.