Gameline Master Module


A photo in an article in the June 1983 issue of Electronic Games (page 33) shows an orange-colored Master Module with what appears to be a phone jack on the top (picture #1) , whereas the released version was silver/gray with a phone jack on the side (picture #2).  A photo of a prototype pcb was shown in the manual (#3).  Compared to the released version (picture #4 and info courtesy of Kevin Horton), all the chips are socketed, with an EPROM instead of a mask ROM, and missing the PROM chip.  I also has a ceramic packaged ASIC and the board layout has various changes.

GameLine was a service offered by Control Video Corporation that allowed you to download games to the VCS over regular phone lines via the use of their GameLine Master Module. The complete kit contains the Master Module (an 8K RAM cartridge with internal 1200 baud modem - more tech info can be found on the Stella Archive), telephone connecting cord, a duplex T-adapter, owner's manual, registration guide, GameLine membership cards, and "temporary" game directory & instructions. It originally sold for $49.95 and there was a one-time membership fee of $15. Charges were about $.10 a game or $1 for up to an hour of play. Contest games were $1 and there was a $.50 charge to enter a score. Once it connected, it downloaded the menu program to the battery-backed 2K of RAM. A title screen appeared and "Assembly of Trumpeters For Reveille (First Call)" played. Next, a screen appeared for you to enter a 3-digit number for your ID, and after that another screen where you selected the game you wanted via a 3-digit number, or you could enter 999 for a special "browse" menu. Once the game loaded, a screen would appear with both the game's name and the company who made it, and a tune very similar to the German Army WWI bugle call "No. 2 Battery" played.  On your birthday, a screen would appear with the message, "Happy Birthday! All of your play today is free!" while the first 2 bars of "Happy Birthday" played. One of the game catalogs that was archived lists 76 games which included Save The Whales - a game long thought to be vaporware until it was found years later.  The GameLine system became QuantumLink (also known as Q-Link), an online service for Commodore computer users, which became America On-Line, the most successful online service ever.  See Dan Skelton's GameLine article for more information and a complete list of games that were offered, along with footage of it running. 


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