Monday, January 2, 2017

Microvision: A Blast from Birthdays Past

My mother was kind enough to take me to Sierra Vista today for a birthday dinner, and I managed to snag this from a thrift store along the way.

This is the Milton Bradley Microvision. It's an early handheld game system, and the first to include a cartridge slot. It's also incredibly primitive, packing about 1/12000th the power of one of those no-contract smartphones Wal-Mart sells for a couple sawbucks. The resolution is a laughably coarse 16x16 pixels. It has 64 bytes of RAM... not 64 megs, or 64K, but 64 bytes, half the size of a Twitter post. Yet despite all this, I'm happy to have it, because it takes me back to a birthday many years in the past...

Let's rewind back to... 1985, I think. My stepfather and mother had recently married, and they took my brother and me to White's, a warehouse store in a tiny midwestern town. They sold a little bit of this and a little bit of that; typically under-loved overstock from other stores. Amidst the clearance priced couches and lamps, we both managed to find something worth taking home... my brother an Optimus Prime figure from the Transformers toy line, and myself a Microvision. 

The Microvision was already six years old and completely disowned by Milton Bradley, but that didn't matter much. It was new to me, and I could play it wherever I liked, as long as I had a couple of fresh batteries loaded in the back. It didn't even matter that I never found any cartridges beyond the pack-in, Block Buster. It was the best game on the system anyway; a clone of Breakout that was well suited to the Microvision's limited hardware and dial controller.

Like so many childhood toys, I lost interest in the Microvision, and it vanished shortly afterward. Maybe I gave it to a friend, or it wound up in the donation bin of a Goodwill, or it was dumped in a landfill after being left in the rain. It's anyone's guess, really. Whatever the cause for its disappearance, I'm happy that my Microvision and I have been reunited... even if it's not likely to distract me from my Vita for long.

No comments:

Post a Comment