Pong Never Looked So Good
By James Grahame
Video games were suddenly big business in the late 1970s. While companies like Atari and Intellivision sank millions of dollars into futuristic cartridge-based consoles, most manufacturers built simpler game machines using ready-to-play chipsets. The 1978 Saft Leclanché TV8 Sports was one such beast, built around the General Instruments AY-3-8610 chip.
This curvaceous French console plays 8 different paddle games and each of the puck-like paddles allows both horizontal and vertical player movement. Pretty standard stuff. However, it's the design that sets this unit apart from the competition. In an era when woodgrain and sharp angles were the norm, the TV8 was remarkably sleek and colorful -- more like a clock radio than a game unit.
My one gripe (and it's a serious one) is that the TV8 relied solely on battery power. This made it expensive to use and virtually ensured that many consoles were ruined after being forgotten with dead, corroding batteries inside. This particular unit was recently purchased off eBay by Clairtone enthusiast DC Hillier, but I'm sure there are many more lying forgotten in dusty French cellars. Just remember to take the battery pack out when you're done playing.