The RCA Studio II
Not everyone who wanted to play video games was interested in learning to program. During the early 1970s, companies like Magnavox and Atari started marketing home entertainment systems that allowed consumers to access new games by plugging in cartridges containing additional software. The rapid growth of this market inspired RCA to release the Studio II system in 1977. The Studio II used the same microprocessor as the COSMAC VIP. After connecting it to a television, users could play five built-in games or purchase cartridges for more options. Due to concerns about the reliability of joysticks, RCA provided players with a pair of ten-key keyboard controllers, which allowed them to enter numbers or indicate direction.
RCA released ten separate cartridges for use in the Studio II, in four different series. Tennis/Squash was in the arcade series, and was a variation on the earlier Atari game Pong. Fun With Numbers was also in the arcade series, and contained three number-related guessing games. Blackjack was in the casino series, and was based on the card game of the same name. It could be played by one or two players against a dealer. School House I was the first of a planned series of educational games. It contained quizzes in mathematics and social science for both elementary and advanced students. The cartridge came with booklets that listed all the questions, and the players would enter the number of the correct answer on their television sets. Biorhythm was the only game in the mystic series
In promotional material, like this advertisement from J.C. Penney's 1977 catalog, RCA emphasized the Studio II's versatility. The company presented it as both an entertainment and educational tool, as demonstrated through its built-in library of programs, including Freeway (a racing game), Addition (a math quiz), and Doodle (a drawing program). Unfortunately, the Studio II's black-and-white graphics paled in comparison to the full-color games offered on the Atari 2600, which was released in the same year, and in 1978, citing low sales, RCA suspended production of the Studio II.