CVC was a perfect example of a company that was both ahead of its
time while at the same time being a case of too little too late.
When Control Video Corporation announced its Gameline Master
Module for the Atari 2600, it was the beginning of the first
interactive telecommunications service linking a home videogame console
with a central server.
The service, dubbed "The Gameline", allowed owners
of the 2600 to tap a centeral computerized library of video games
licensed from leading companies, on a pay-per-play basis. Gameline
was to be the first of a number of CVC services planned, including
electronic mail, news and information, home banking and financial
management. CVC's telecommunications link for the 2600 was its Master
Module, a unique device which was inserted into the game console like
a game cartridge and connected to a telephone or telephone outlet.
The Master Module automatically called the GameLine central computer
and received a video game program. Once the game was transmitted and
stored in the Master Module's 8K memory unit, the game was to be
played exactly as if it were in conventional cartridge form, thereby
freeing the phone to be used again.
Why was the Gameline a case of too little, too late? It debuted in
June of 1983, just as the video game crash was beginning to occur.
People were no longer interested in playing home video games,
regardless of whether it was with a cartridge or through a phone
Two interesting sidenotes regarding CVC and its GameLine service.
The Gameline was apparently the ONLY place in which Spectravision's
unreleased game, Save the Whales was made available. Not even
prototypes of this game has surfaced, to the dismay of everyone.
In addition, after the failure with its 2600 gaming service, CVC's
president, William F. von Meister, founded America Online, the
leading online service company!
- GameLine Master Module