Manufacturer: Milton Bradley
Availability: November 1979
Milton Bradley (best known for their board games) released the Microvision handheld in November of 1979. It was designed by Jay Smith, who later engineered and designed the Vectrex console. The Microvision is considered to be one of the first gaming handhelds with interchangeable games. Initially the Microvision had strong sales with Smith Engineering (Jay Smith’s company) grossing over $8 million during the first year alone. However because of the lack of support, a small unreliable screen and very few games released for it, the Microvision was discontinued in 1981.
The Microvision handheld is very unique in design. It’s long and has a wheel nob built in the bottom which can be used as a track wheel controller. There is a 16×16 screen at about the middle of the system which displays black square dots that appear as images for the games. The cartridge is nearly the length of the Microvision itself, and snaps in and covers the screen and 2/3 of the unit. Each game has their own different control buttons also built into it. The sound is just basic bleeps, and nothing more.
Initially the Microvision required two 9V batteries to power the system. Later versions of the Milton Bradley changed the processor which was more primitive, but offered more memory and required less power consumption; in turn requiring only one 9V battery. Both versions still have a compartment to store two 9V batteries regardless of the model.
Today the Microvision is considered somewhat rare, and to find a working model is even more difficult. The Microvision suffers over time with substantial screen rot and the liquid crystals in the screen often leak. In addition the controls and buttons also suffer from damage and often times don’t work.
Only 13 games were released for the Microvision in total including:
- Sea Duel
- Alien Raiders
- Cosmic Hunter
- Barrage (Not released – no known prototypes)
- Super Blockbuster (Released only in Europe)