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Wherefore Art Thou, Vectrex?

by N Kinney

Ed: This article was quoted from an auction item on Ebay.
Thanks to B Walach for verififying the information

Once upon a time, a long time ago (1982), when home computers were new and video games were exciting, we owned and operated a store in San Jose, California (the Video Adventure Store) that specialized in retailing those items for home use.  Naturally, our biggest sellers were the wares of the then-gigantic Atari, Inc.

In the Fall of 1982, a new entry into the fast-growing home video market, took the world by surprise and virtually swept away the Christmas market.  The Vectrex Arcade System was something quite different from all the others and (horrors) it didn't need to be hooked up to a TV set to work!  The cartridge-based game system with it's striking sound and vector-drawn graphics, immediately proved that you didn't need color to make  good games.  We immediately sold out our stock and there were long delays in getting more before Christmas.

The tremendous sales success of the little Vectrex did not go unnoticed by it's rivals.   What to do?  More game systems and more cartridges for the game systems...   make video games out of every new movie that comes along... and something else...!    One day while re-ordering Vectrex games and systems for our stock, our wholesale distributor  informed us that he only had a few more systems available and this would be our last Vectrex order since he would no longer be handling the brand.   Shocked, we inquired as to why?  Was the company failing somehow?  Was it a problem with the distributor.  Sadly, it was neither of these.

According to our distributor, Atari Inc. had sent them a notice, and a notice to every other distributor of it's products in the country, that no Atari goods would be released to any distributor that also carried the Vectrex products.  That meant that if we wanted to sell Atari games and systems, then we would not have a source of Vectrex games and systems.  We had to choose between selling the exciting and innovative Vectrex system, or selling all other Atari video games and computer systems.  It was no choice at all.  Not with us... and not with any other retailer either!   Overnight, Vectrex was dead!  Slain at the starting gate by an overwhelming opponent!


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