Video game software can reside on many different types of media. In the early dedicated consoles of the seventies, the games were built into the consoles themselves. The introduction of cartridges in 1976 eventually gave way to CDs in 1988 and DVDs in 2000.
Magnetic media also found its way to consolesin 1982, when Arcadia (later renamed Starpath)released the SuperCharger, which used cassette tapes to download games to the Atari VCS. Nintendo followed suit in 1986 by using floppy discsfor its Famicom Disc System (and again in 1997 forits N64DD), but these units were only peripherals for existing consoles. No console had ever been designed around magnetic media. Well, at least not until September 1987, when toy company Worlds of Wonder released its Action Max.
It seemed like a good idea in theory, although it was really a throwback to 1972, when Magnavox issued screen overlays to simulate attractive graphics. In this case, a live-action movie would play on the screen and provide the backdrop to the game.
The Action Max retailed for $99, which wasn’t a whole lot of money for a new console. However, unlike conventional consoles, it didn’t hook up to a television. Unlike the conventional consoles that directly accepted the media, the VHS-tape games for the Action Max had to obviously be inserted into a VCR (or Video Cassette player). The systemwas packaged with one light gun, headphones, a red light and one game on tape. The gun and red light plugged into the console. A suction cup on the back of the light was used to attach it to the lower right corner of the television set. It flashed on and off whenever a target appeared on the screen. The games themselves were primitive. Shoot at the targets and try to get the highest possible number of hits. An LED on the console kept track of the hits.
Leonard Herman, The Game Scholar, is regarded as one of the earliest and most respected videogame historians. The first edition of his book Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames, which was published in 1994, is considered to be the first serious and comprehensive book about the history of videogames. He has written articles for Videogaming & Computer Illustrated, Games Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Pocket Games, Classic Gamer Magazine, Edge, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Manci Games, Gamespot.com and Video Game Trader, which he also edited. He has also contributed articles to several videogame-related books, including Supercade, The Video Game Explosion and The Encyclopedia of Video Games. Mr. Herman has also written the book ABC To the VCS (A Directory of Software for the Atari 2600), a compendium of game summaries. He has also written and designed user's manuals for the following Atari VCS games: Cracked, Save the Whales, Pick-Up, Rush Hour, Looping, The Entity and Lasercade, as well as the user's guide to Ralph Baer's Pinball! for the Odyssey2. In 1994, he founded Rolenta Press, a publisher of videogame books, whose catalogue included Videogames: In the Beginning, by Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the videogame console, and Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel, the world's first videogame journalist. Two Rolenta Press books were included in a list of the top ten videogame books of all time by Game Informer magazine in 2008. Mr. Herman has served as an advisor for Videotopia, Classic Gaming Expo and the National Videogame Museum. He has appeared in several episodes of G4's Icons and in the documentary, The King of Arcades. In 2003, Mr. Herman received a Classic Gaming Expo Achievement Award in recognition for his accomplishments in documenting game history