Yup, I was involved in at least one incarnation and was at the big
meeting as Atari HQ where we demoed the product to them.
As far as I know there was a contract to develop the hardware and six
game titles awarded to Western Technologies circa 1982. If I'm not
mistaken it was a $3 million contract of which I think 1 or 2 million
was paid. Nolan Bushnell as Androbot, Inc was the contractor and he
was assuming he'd be able to sell the finish project to Atari.
There were four programmers. I think only 3 games were finished before
the contract was canceled. I finished one of the games, a computer
version of the board game 'Clue' and was about one month into a second
game (I don't recall the second game name or names of the others).
I also developed the VCS<>robot communications code that was used in
all the games.
The hardware was developed by a Western Technology office in Florida,
I believe, and me and the other game programmers were in Los Angeles
office. The drive gear in the prototype that we used to develop the
games was cannibalized from a 'Big Wheel' toy truck. The robot didn't
have much on board smarts, just a small embedded microprocessor. He
had a 360 degree IR tx/rx unit on his head and there was a matching
unit that plugged into one joystick port on the Atari 2600. He also
had a photosensitive unit on his base (basically a bar code reader)
so he could read bar codes on the play mat as he moved over them.
My involvement in the project was about 6 months long and terminated
with the meeting at Atari where they declined to do anything with it.
The word was it was not a good year for introducing any expensive new
toys (putting the robot into mass production was ex$pen$ive)
To the best of my knowledge I turned in the playmat and all the
hardware, including the rom carts, at the end of the project. Same
with docs. Even if I did keep some of it I'm sure it didn't survive
the several garage cleanouts that have occurred as my house in the
past 15 years.
I am a senor programmer with Dell Computer now. Dimension product
line, and have been here for about 5 years. I still dabble in game
programming on the side and have a successful multiplayer internet
gaming site called Igames at http://www.igames.com
I'm still in touch with one of the other programmers, Mike Case, who
is now president of Digital Dialect (a pc game design house) at
The only other name I recall (other than Smith brothers who owned
Western Technologies) is Joel Hassel (sp? Hassle) who was the software
project manager. Joel is an ivy league grad who was a few years
younger than Mike & I which would put him at maybe 38 yrs. Old today.
Mike and I were just over 40.