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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 line

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

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