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Intelligent hand-held games

In 1979, New Electronics reported on one of the earliest handheld games - the Amaze-a-tron.

Made by American company Coleco, the Amaze-a-tron was a maze game for one or two players. The simple device selected a start and end point and players had to find a path between the two by listening to sounds and watching the led indicators.

The game featured eight different variations; Maze, Blind Alley Maze, Back To Start Maze, Blind Alley Back To Start, Solitaire Maze, Solitaire Back To Start, Opposite Start and Opposite Start Back To Start, which all involved getting from A to B using 'movers' to find the path. Overall there were more than a million maze variations. The original instruction manual is available to view here.

Founded in 1932, Coleco was originally a manufacturer of shoe leather, but later went on to develop leather craft kits in the 1950s. It then began manufacturing plastic moulding and moved into plastic wading pools in the 1960s. Under ceo Arnold Greenberg, the company entered the video game console market with the Telstar in 1976 before moving on to handheld electronic games such as the Amaze-a-tron in 1978.

The company then went on to produce a 'head to head' series of two player sports games and a mini arcade series which included Donkey Kong and Ms.Pacman. In 1983, it launched the hugely popular Cabbage Patch Kids series of dolls, but the overwhelming success was still not enough to keep the company afloat and it filed for bankruptcy the year after. All of its assets were sold to toy giant Hasbro in 1989.

Author
Laura Hopperton

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