History of Consoles: Arcadia 2001 (1982)

Console: Arcadia 2001

Manufacturer: Emerson

Availability: May 1981

Consoles Sold: Unknown

Original Retail Price: $199 ($475.08 with inflation)


 Emerson Radio Corp. (known for their development of affordable electronic products) decided to enter the video game home console market in 1982 by  releasing the Arcadia 2001 console.  The Arcadia 2001 initially retailed for $199 USD, and competed with the already flooded home console market including the Atari 2600 & 5200, Mattel Intellivision, and Magnavox Odyssey 2 among others.

The Atari 2600 was a huge success at the time, and Emerson created the Arcadia 2001 to be the next Atari 2600 killer.  Unfortunately like many other home console manufacturers during this time, Emerson lacked the third party support that Atari had.  Emerson had actually developed many popular arcade ports for the Arcadia 2001 including Defender, Galaxian and Pac-Man, however Atari started to sue their competitors for releasing these games.
Coleco released their Colecovision console just months after the release of the Arcadia 2001, and Atari had recently released the 5200. Just one year later after the launch of the Arcadia 2001, the console was found in bargain bins at the cost of $99. There are over 30 different Arcadia 2001 clones that were produced all over the world, and Emerson had decided to distribute and license the Arcadia 2001 through Bandai in Japan for 19,800 yen.  There are four games that were released only in Japan for the Arcadia 2001.

One thing that made the Arcadia 2001 unique was that Emerson decided to power the console by a standard 12-volt power supply.  The 12-volt power supply enabled the Arcadia 2001 to be used with smaller more portable TVs and could be used on boats and in vehicles.

Emerson had made a false claim through their advertisements that the Arcadia 2001 had 24k of system RAM.   That ended up being a huge lie, and hurt Emerson’s reputation in the home console market significantly.



At first glance the Arcadia 2001 looks like a smaller version of the Intellivision console.  It features two wired-in controllers that fit in holders on both sides of the console.  It also has a cartridge slot in the upper middle section of the console, and right below that are five buttons (Reset, Select, Option, Start, and Power).   There is a “power on” indicator light that turns red when the console is powered on.  On the back of the console is a plug in outlet for the 12-volt AC adapter, a hardwired-in RF cable that connects to the TV, and a switch to change between channel 3 and channel 4.



The controller also looks very similar to the Intellivision controller.  They feature a numerical membrane touch bad, and an eight way joystick below the touch pad. They also have red action buttons on both side of each controller.



In total there were only 45 games released for the Arcadia 2001 console.  Most of these games were clones of popular arcade games including “Space Raiders” which was a clone of Space Invaders, and “Breakaway” which was a clone to Atari’s Breakout.

The graphics on the Arcadia 2001 are similar to the graphics on both the Intellivision and Odyssey 2.


 Technical Specs:

  • Main Processor: Signetic 2650 CPU running at 3.58 MHz (some versions run on Signetic 2650A)
  • 512 Bytes of RAM
  • no ROM
  • Video Display is 128×208/128×104, in 8 colors
  • Video Display Controller is Signetics 2637 UVI
  • Sound is a single channel “beeper” and single channel “noise”
  • Hardware sprites are 4 independent, and one single color

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About Gamester81

John "Gamester81" Lester started playing video games at a very young age. His first ever console that he played was a Colecovision, quickly followed by an Atari 2600, and his passion for video games hasn't stopped. In 2008 John decided to start a video game review show on YouTube called Gamester81 by reviewing rare and retro video game systems and games. His show quickly grew in popularity, and he became friends with many other gamers in the YouTube community. He is also one of the hosts of the All Gen Gamers Podcast which is a bimonthly podcast for people and video games of all generations. Some of John's other hobbies includes collecting Star Wars memorabilia (YouTube channel Starwarsnut77), playing classic arcade games (YouTube channel Gamester81Arcade), watching sports, and listening to music. John is a big fan of the 80's and 90's and in 2009 started a YouTube channel called NEStalgiaholic where he talks about nostalgic items and memories from his childhood. To see some of John's video's in 3D visit his YouTube channel Gamester81in3D. Favorite Systems: Colecovision, Commodore 64, NES, & SNES. Favorite Games: Donkey Kong Arcade, Atari Star Wars Arcade, Super Mario 3, Final Fantasy II, & Goldeneye 007