Phil Freedman was an American that grew up in Japan. Having soaked in the Japanese culture for years, Phil made a living of liaising for U.S. firm that wanted to do business in Japan. Albert Friedman, his big brother worked at Olympic Radio before being hired as the president of Delmonico International a stereo and television company. In July 1968, the two brothers founded APF Electronics Inc. The name APF come from the initial of the two brothers. The company started by importing audio/video equipment from Japan including stereo, radio, amplifiers, record players, television sets, etc. By 1972, APF Electronics was a leading manufacturer of electronic calculators. They were building more than 70% of all calculator sold in the stores such as Sears and Montgomery Ward.
In 1976, General Instrument released the AY-3-8500 chip, a chip that could play six pong-like games. Prior to this concept of pong-on-a-chip, video game manufacturer had to create the integrated circuit from scratch using discrete transistor logic instead of a microprocessor. The process was complex and costly which explain that only a few video game consoles were created before 1976. With the release of the AY-3-8500 chip, tech companies could now create simple and affordable video game console. As did Coleco with the Telsar series, APF decided to release in 1976 its first pong-like console named APF TV Fun. The name TV Fun was Steve Lipper son’s idea. He was paid 1$ for the use of the name and never cashed the check. In the first year, more than 400,000 units of the APF TV Fun were sold, leading APF to develop other models. Magnavox quickly sued APF, Coleco, etc for patent infringement, but instead of settling, Steve Lipper traveled to Germany and bought the original patent from V2 Rocket, a game developed after World War II on a radar screen. By 1977, APF Electronics had released six other models.
After the release of the Fairchild Channel F in 1976, APF saw the potential in cartridge-based video game console and in 1977, they decided to work on its own. APF appointed Kenneth Boilen to lead the design team while Ed Smith, one of APF engineer, was put in charge of designing the prototype for the console. The design of the MP1000 advanced quickly. In less than six months and with the help of the design team and engineers of the Hong Kong office, Ed Smith managed to develop the electronic design for the prototype.
Called MP1000 for MicroProcessor, the console was released in mid-1978. The console came packed with 1 built-in game called Rocket Patrol. The console did fairly well at first, but received mixed reviews, especially in regards to the games. Almost all games were developed by Harry Cox as APF didn’t have the money to hire a second developer. Like it was the case for the Fairchild Channel F and the RCA Studio II, APF decided to play safe and release games based on existing sports or board games while Atari developed new creative ideas and IP for their Atari VCS (Atari 2600) console. But APF had an ace in their sleeve. Hearing that Atari was coming with a computer add-on, they immediately started to design their own add-on around the same time they designed the MP1000. By summer 1979, APF released the Imagination Machine and became the first company to release such an add-on. But the hope that the Imagination Machine would reinvigorate the sluggish MP1000 sales were quickly dissipated (see the Imagination Machine article).
APF had spent a lot of money in developing the MP1000 and the Imagination Machine and now had more than $7 million in debt. The bank didn’t think the Imagination Machine had a future especially since the release of the IBM Personal Computer in August 1981. The video game industry was still perceived as a fad so the bank asked APF to center their activity around the calculator line which was still successful or for the immediate reimbursement of the loan. The APF management refused to change their strategy and gave the company to the back which proceed in its foreclosure.
The MP1000 came with a built-in game called Rocket Patrol. 12 other games were released for the console at a suggested retail price of $29.95. The game “Space Destroyers” is by far the most collectable cartridge game for the systems. The game is a very faithful Space Invaders clone and it’s the only game to come in a long cartridge format.
- Backgammon [MG1008]
- Baseball [MG1006]
- Blackjack [MG1007]
- Bowling/Micro Match [MG1004]
- Boxing [MG1012]
- Brickdown/Shooting Gallery [MG1005]
- Casino I: Roulette/Keno/Slots [MG1009]
- Catena [MG1001]
- Hangman/Tic Tac Toe/Doodle [MG1003]
- Pinball/Dungeon Hunt/Blockout [MG1011]
- Space Destroyers [MG1013]
- UFO/Sea Monster/Break It Down/Rebuild/Shoot [MG1010]
- CPU: Motorola 6800
- Speed: 3.5 MHz
- RAM: 1 KB
- Resolution: 256 x 192 pixels / 32 x 16 characters, 8 Colors