Difference between revisions of "Datel"
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Latest revision as of 15:30, 12 May 2019
Datel (previously Datel Electronics) produced a wide range of hardware and peripherals for home computers in the 1980s, for example replacement keyboards for the ZX Spectrum, the PlusD disk interface (originally designed and sold by Miles Gordon Technology) and the Action Replay cartridge.
Datel was and still is the brainchild of Mike Connors, who has been mentioned in the The Sunday Times (UK) as one of the country's top 100 richest people.
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Datel started off selling AM Citizens' band radio radios in the UK. These AM band radios were made illegal in the UK and even the importing of them was deemed illegal. Datel then started to import the C.B. radios in component form and build them up. Datel started to manufacture products related to home computers that were popular in the 1980s such as the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. One of their first commercial successes was joystick interfaces for the ZX Spectrum. The greatest commercial success of Datel was the Action Replay. First for the Commodore 64 and then the Commodore Amiga. The Commodore 64 version was designed by Richard Bond. There were six versions of the Commodore 64 version of Action Replay. The Commodore Amiga version was authored by two German students known as Boham and Zanger who had been inspired by the earlier Commodore 64 version.
The Commodore 64 and Amiga Action replays included the ability to save the entire contents of a home computer's memory to floppy disc or compact audio cassette, and then to reload very quickly. This proved extremely popular with people, especially when the Commodore 64 could take 20 minutes to load a game from notoriously unreliable tape. It also did not escape people's attention that you could use Action Replays to copy games. The name Action Replay referred to the fact that you could instantly restart a game from the position that you had saved it.
Another feature the Amiga and Commodore 64 versions had in common was the ability to add Pokes, or cheats. They also had an ingenious system for finding pokes called a Pokefinder, or trainer.
Datel also made numerous unique copy devices for various systems that proved extremely popular. Devices such as the Syncro Express as well as the Action Replay exerted a heavy toll on the fledgling Video Games industry. It has been said that Datel in part was responsible for the demise of the home computer games market. Hundreds of thousands of Syncro Expresses, each copying 10 to 100 games may have had an impact. The 1988 Act Copyright law of the United Kingdom was designed to halt the casual copying of games in this way.
During the 90s many companies started to struggle that had been successful in the 80's. Miles Gordon technology sold their innovative PlusD drive to Datel to assist their ailing SAM Coupé project. Also the OCP Art Studio painting software bought by Datel is worth mentioning. Datel added what was then a somewhat unfamiliar mouse. People bought it to make their home computers feel like a personal computer.
During the mid 90s home computers, that were almost exclusively used for games, started to be replaced by video game consoles. Datel took the Pokes and Pokefinder features of the earlier Action Replays and created Action Replay for the Sega Mega Drive. This was followed shortly after by the Action Replay Pro, this used a superior system sometimes referred to as RAM stuffing. This combined with a built in Trainer allowed users to easily find their own codes.
The Action Replay was in competition for some time with Codemasters' Game Genie which was distributed by Galoob. At first Codemasters tried to protect the Game Genie as they had filed a patent on cartridge cheat devices, Datel defended this by saying that they had been cheating at games way before the Game Genie existed. Action Replay improved on the Game Genie's functionality by adding an enable/disable switch. The cheat codes, at the time, were published in a more logical hexadecimal format compared with Codemasters obfuscated system. This meant that users, along with the trainer could make their own cheat codes.
Ultimately Codemasters and Galoob dropped the Game Genie entirely leaving Datel as the only cheat device manufacturer in the world.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts at breaking into the huge USA market, Datel finally started dealing with Interact Accessories with a new name, the GameShark. The GameShark was hugely successful. By now Datel had produced dozens of cheat devices for numerous systems. The most successful being the ones for the Game Boy, and the PlayStations 1 and 2.