Heathkit was a famous kit manufacturer in the 1970s. Their catalog was long: it proposed everything from simple projects to advanced test equipment, color TV sets, Hi-Fi, and of course video games.
The Heathkit GD-1380 kit was released in 1976 and it looks like an old car radio... It plays the six games of the AY-3-8500 chip, and has several interesting features. First, it requires a Heathkit TV set to operate because of its composite output. Back in 1976, only monitors and hi-tech equipment had a composite input. To use this system, the user had to open his TV set in order to connect a few wires to its electronic circuits. This is the case with the Heathkit TV sets: the user manual explains how to connect the system to several TV sets released by Heathkit.
The Lightgun reminds those old laser guns from old TV series. It is quite ergonomic, but uses a simple push-button as trigger. The case is still excellent. The following additional informations about the light gun came from Bill Wilkinson:
"If I remember right, one of those two (Heathkit Pong) models was a shoot-em-up type game
where you aimed a "gun" at the TV set, pulled the trigger, and the screen
would indicate a hit or miss. Possibly to save on design budget, the gun
case was from a strobe light used in one of their automotive timing light
kits. Heath Company used that case for most of their automotive kits that came with a timing light. The CO-2500 and CI-1040 come to mind."
The system has another interesting feature: the sound does not come from the system itself like most of the other PONG consoles, but comes from the TV set. The main reason for this is the direct connexion of the system to the TV set. Since the TV had to be open for connecting, why not connecting additional wires to the audio amplifier of the TV instead of using a speaker in the system ? Using the TV as audio output was not possible with regular systems which used a video modulator. Outputing the sound to the TV would have required additional circuits, hence a higher price of the systems. Here, the system benefits of a direct connexion to the TV set, hence the possibility of using the audio circuits of the TV without additional costs. A last thing: the blue electronic gun of the system is very funny, and the user manual is extremely detailed. Infosource: www.pong-story.com
The Heath Company was originally founded as an aircraft company in the early 1900s by Edward Bayard Heath. Starting in 1926 it sold a light aircraft, the Heath Parasol, in kit form. Heath died during a 1931 test flight. In 1935, Howard Anthony purchased the now-bankrupt Heath Company, and focused on selling accessories for small aircraft. After World War II, Anthony decided that entering the electronics industry was a good idea, and bought a large stock of surplus wartime electronic parts with the intention of building kits with them. In 1947, Heath introduced its first electronic kit, an oscilloscope that sold for US$50 - the price was unbeatable at the time, and the oscilloscope went on to be a huge seller.
The exterior fit and finish of the Heathkit enclosures was not always quite up to the standards of factory-built products, but a Heathkit amplifier, for instance, did not look out of place in a living room. The technical characteristics of many Heathkits were good. Building a Heathkit required time, patience, and the ability to follow directions; given these, the risk of failure was small. Heathkits were absolutely complete except for tools. The instruction books were regarded as the best in the kit industry, being models of clarity, beginning with basic lessons on soldering technique, and proceeding with explicit directions, illustrated with line drawings, and a box to tick as each task was accomplished.
By the 1980s, the continuation of the integration trend (printed circuit boards, integrated circuits, etc), and mass production of electronics (perhaps especially computers overseas and in plug in modules) eroded the basic Heathkit business model. On March 30, 1992, the end came. Heath announced that it was closing out its kits and leaving the business after 45 years, the last maker of the old name-brand kit makers.
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Our collection includes: Console, detachable controllers, optional pistol (model 1380-1)
We are looking for the original manuals, we only have a photo of the front cover (above).
The console is untested because we do not own a suitable TV set.
Thomas Dörpinghaus, Germany
Any informations, inputs, contributions, descriptions or anything
related to this Pong console will be greatly appreciated! Please contact us.