Starpath was founded in June 1981 under the name Arcadia Corporation.
The original founders were Alan Bayley, Robert Brown and Craig
Nelson. Brown had previously served as director of microelectronics
and director of research and development at Atari for four years with
supervision of 40 engineers. The company was originally located in a
single-room office in Livemore, California. Within a few months the
company relocated to Santa Clara to continue with work on the
Supercharger, the brainchild of Brown.
In October 1982, the company changed its name to Starpath Corp. The
name change coincided with the completion of $2.25 million in second
round venture funding, bringing total venture financing for 1982 to
$3 million. In addition, Starpath received a $5 million line of
credit with Bank of America. Such were the humble origins of the
The Starpath Supercharger was unveiled in 1982, and
was a plug-in device which expanded the Random Access Memory (RAM) of
the Atari VCS almost 50-fold, from 128 to 6,272 bytes. The increased
memory added vivid high resolution graphics capabilities like never
before on the venerable Atari machine. The Supercharger was inserted
into the cartridge slot of the Atari unit. A cable from the Supercharger
plugged into the earphone jack of almost any cassette player. Starpath
games were recorded on audio cassettes, achieving greater memory capacity
and reduced cost of cassettes. The user simply placed the game cassette
in the caseette player, pressed the play button, and played the game.
The Supercharger originally listed at $44.95, and was packaged with
the game Phaser Patrol, an excellent Star Raiders knockoff.
Additional games could be purchased for a mere $15-18.
Although the Supercharger brought about drastic improvements in the
quality of Atari 2600 games, the third wave of videogame systems,
led by the Colecovision and Atari 5200 SuperSystem, dealt a blow
to the peripheral as the next generation systems began to steal
the limelight. Furthermore, many of the better Atari 2600 cartridges
such as Pitfall II, Demon Attack and
Tunnel Runner, boasted graphics that were on par with
those from Starpath.
When the market for videogames began to crumble around them, Starpath
positioned themselves to develop games for the advanced game systems
and computers. Before doing so, however, Epyx bought out the company
and Starpath disappeared forever.
As the first true upgrade for a game machine, the Supercharger must
be considered as at least a partial success. It sold moderately
well, and it continued to be supported until the (first) demise
of the 2600 in mid-1984. Although Starpath was the only company
to support its peripheral with software, its software lineup was
completely devoid of duds, and was filled with playable titles with
graphical flair. Escape from the Mindmaster was a
riveting corridor extravaganza set in a Doom-like environment;
Sword of Saros was an elaborate maze-adventure game
that involved treasure and magic, and multi-load Dragonstomper
may very well be considered the first console Role-Playing game.
- Communist Mutants from Space
- Escape from the Mindmaster
- Frogger, The Official
- Killer Satellites
- Party Mix
- Phaser Patrol (packaged with the Supercharger)
- Rabbit Transit
- Suicide Mission
- Survival Island
- Sweat: The Decathlon Game (not released, prototype demo exists)
- Sword of Saros
- Supercharger Demonstration Unit (for dealers only)
- Supercharger (packaged with Phaser Patrol)