VTech was founded in October 1976 by Allan Wong (Chi-Yun) and Stephen Leung in Hong Kong. The company was initially focused on developing video games. In 1977, the company created its first home TV game console, a version of Pong. Since only consumers in North America and Europe could afford such items, the company targeted primarily these markets. In February 1980 VTech unveiled its first electronic learning product at the New York Toy Fair, a game called “Lesson One”.
In 1982, VTech released their first cartridge-based video game console with the CreatiVision. Then VTech branched out in personal computers in 1983.
After the revival of the video game industry in 1985, VTech began to work on a new product that would encompass all of their business activities : learning toys, video game consoles and personal computers.
Enter the Socrates in 1988. Named after the philosopher, the Socrates was the first video game console axed toward learning. The console marketed as a computerize video educational system with the tagline “Entertain your Brain”. Aimed at children 3 and up, the console features a witless infrared keyboard with a built-in game controller and various accessories such as wireless mouse and a wireless touchpad.
The console had a limited success from the start. The high price point, added to cost of the additional peripherals that needed to be acquired in order to get the full experience was a huge turn-down for most parents. The system itself was slow and making the games uninteresting. After the released of the 8 planned stand-alone games, the system was discontinued.
The system had 8 stand-alone cartridges, 3 peripherals with cartridges and a 90 built-in activities. All games were sold for $39.95.
- Fact N’ Fraction
- Memory Mania
- Hodge Podge
- Around the World
- Mystery Puzzle (release at the end of 1989)
- State to States (release at the end of 1989)
- Amazing Mazes (release at the beginning of 1990)
- Game Wizard (release at the beginning of 1990. Last released game.)
- Mouse System $59.95 (bundled with CAD Professors)
- Touch Pad $59.95 (bundled with Numbers, Shapes & Letters)
- Voice Cartridge $49.95
- 12V Adaptor $12.00