VTech logo VTech CreatiVision
Type Console Developer Video Technology Ltd.
Release Date 1981 Region(s) Europe, Japan, China Australasia, South Africa
Initial Price $499 USD Games Released 17 (cartridge based)
     by Dark Watcher
The CreatiVision was introduced in 1981 by VTech (Video Technology Limited), a Hong Kong based company.  The unit was actually a computer hybrid (a small trend in those days.  See also APF Imagination Machine).  The following is an actual excerpt from a VTech advertisement. 
(c) CREATIVISION The serious personal computer you've been waiting for!  At last!  A total computer system.  Right in your own home!  Start with a fully functional computer... for the low price of a video game set!  Most ordinary systems give you only a video game unit to start with.  If you want to make it into a real computer, you have to buy quite a few more pieces of expensive hardware.  But CREATIVISION gives you a fully functional Personal Computer unit with built-in keyboard and built-in memory, capable of running software packages and of being programmed.  And all for the price you'd pay for an ordinary video game set!
Appearance wise it was a typical console at heart, but by rotating the console's joysticks 90 degrees and then inserting them into two compartments on top of the console you were given a makeshift keyboard.  Throw in a BASIC program cart, and your console becomes a microcomputer.

The CreatiVision could also be expanded with 'plug-compatible' hardware such as a cassette player, additional rubber keyboard, parallel I/O interface, floppy disk drive, modem (probably unreleased), generic Centronics printer and one memory expansion module for use with the Basic language cartridge.  VTech truly attempted to capitalize on profits from both markets.
The CreatiVision was distributed throughout Europe, South Africa, China, Japan and Australasia.  It was marketed as the Dick Smith Wizzard, FunVision Computer Video Games System and Hanimex Rameses amongst other.  See the Models section for the many variations that were released.  A total of 17 confirmed cartridges were released for the original CreatiVision, but the exact number cannot be confirmed with the possibility of the clones releasing there own titles.  The VTech CreatiVision family died off with the inevitable Videogame Crash of 1983 and the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System.  However VTech was wise enough to spin off the CreatiVision technology into its Laser line of computer systems.

FACT:  A closer inspection shows that early releases of CreatiVision were labeled as MK II Laser 500.  CreatiVision was simply a repackaged computer in console clothing.  Funny thing is although it was clearly a console, it was never advertised as one.  In order to make sure they had a following in both markets, VTech also introduced its Laser 2001 line of computers in 1984.  The Laser 2001 was compatible with all CreatiVision expansion devices, and sported a cart slot for CreatiVision games.
     by Luca "MADrigal" Antignano (Special Guest Contributor)
Hong Kong, 1981.  Electronic game manufacturer VTech attempts to join the home video gaming market by engineering an original system capable of competing against current market leaders which included Atari (VCS / 2600) and Mattel (Intellivision).
VTech's idea was certainly clever: to offer users what the competitors couldn't do by allowing them the ability to program their own software within a gaming console.  This would be accomplished through the release of optional, computer-style peripherals such as a keyboard, cassette tape player/recorder, printer, etc.  The "hybrid" computer/console system was not necessarily a new concept.

The North American electronics company APF released the Imagination Machine, the first console hybrid, in 1978.  Unfortunately, this concept garnered little success when pitted against the industry heavyweights including Atari and Mattel.  VTech was determined to not suffer the same fate as APF by utilizing the latest advances in microprocessor technology.
This new console, named the CreatiVision, was quite an ambitious undertaking.  VTech engineers incorporated the most advanced hardware that was available such as the Rockwell 6502A microprocessor running at 2 MHz, a Texas Instruments TMS9928/9929 (NTSC/PAL) video display processor managing up to 32 sprites on a 256 x 192 pixels screen at 16 colors and a Texas Instruments SND76489 sound generator featuring 3 mono + 1 noise channels.  Technology at this high a level had never been used in a home video game and computer system!
This advanced technology would be very expensive if produced in Europe or North American, but VTech had the advantage of being located in Hong Kong where manufacturing costs were significantly less.  For this reason, the CreatiVision system was less expensive than gaming-only systems such as Atari VCS and Mattel Intellivision.
With the hardware phase of the project completed, the next step was the development of dedicated software.  At first, programmers focused their efforts on creating new game concepts, but cost considerations derailed this plan.  A more effective means would be to simply clone top games, change some graphics, sounds and plot and get it to market.  This approach was quite common in the 80s, even though it often caused copyright issues.

The CreatiVision was promoted with a massive advertising campaign, claiming to be the most powerful home gaming computer system on the market.  Promo leaflets featured comparisons with other home computers such as the Commodore Vic-20, Atari 400 and Radio Shack TRS-80, with the CreatiVision obviously stated to be the best of the lot.  Many optional peripherals were advertised, many which were simply concept/proto products that would never actually be released.

The CreatiVision system debuted in the Hong Kong market in the first half of 1981 and a few months later throughout Europe (Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland), South-Africa, Australia and Japan.  The CreatiVision name is kept for all markets except Australia and New Zealand, where it is distributed through Dick Smith Electronics (a very popular electronic store) under the brand name Wizzard.  All boxes, manuals (in various languages) and accessories were produced in Hong Kong and then provided to distributors.  All consoles share the same hardware.  It is a PAL system with the exception of the Cheryco CreatiVision, the lone NTSC version that was released exclusively in Japan (extremely rare and sought after by collectors).
Cheryco CreatiVision
In an attempt to sell more console units, towards the end of 1982 (beginning of 1983) VTech decides to re-release CreatiVision with a new shape and name.  Unsold units are repackaged and named CreatiVision Mark II.  The Funvision label debuts (sold as the Hanimex Rameses and Dick Smith VZ 2000 in Australia).  All had the same hardware, but the CreatiVision logo was removed from the console boot sequence (modified BIOS?).  The connector layout was changed and there the side peripheral connections were removed.  The cartridge slot was also changed in size to disable use of the "old" CreatiVision carts (an early form of region lock).
In late 1983, VTech began to focus on a new challenge: to surpass their video gaming hardware and focus their efforts on the emerging home computer market.  A new brand of home computers is established, named the Laser.  Various models are produced with the names of Laser 100/110, 200/210 and 300.  All of these units would share one common theme - incorporating very inexpensive, outdated processors (such as Zilog Z80 microprocessors).  This was in stark contrast to their previous focus on the CreatiVision console.

The Laser 2001 home computer is this story's last star, hitting the market towards the end of 1983/early 1984.  It featured almost the same hardware as CreatiVision but is powered with more RAM, includes a professional keyboard, many peripherals and is a true, full-blown home computer!  CreatiVision cartridges are fully compatible with Laser 2001, with many games repackaged in new boxes featuring the Laser logo.

To this very day, there are many CreatiVision enthusiasts sites dedicated to developing new software and keeping alive VTech's gaming vision.  This unsung star, in both the console and home computer fields, definitely merits the attention of any gaming collector.

Above picture courtesy of 8Bit Home Computer Museum
     Officially licensed releases
VTech CreatiVision MK I
VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision
VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision
VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision VTech CreatiVision

VTech CreatiVision MK I
VTech CreatiVision MK I
VTech CreatiVision MK II
VTech CreatiVision MK II
VTech CreatiVision MK II Laser 500
VTech CreatiVision MK II Laser 500
Dick Smith Wizzard
Dick Smith Wizzard
VTech Laser 2001 Home Computer
VTech Laser 2001 Home Computer
Dick Smith VZ-2000 
Zanussi CreatiVision
Zanussi Creativision
Bente CreatiVision
Bente CreatiVision
VTech CreatiVision
VTech CreatiVision (China)
Hanimex Rameses
Hanimex Rameses
Cheryco CreatiVision
Cheryco CreatiVision
Salora Laser 2001
Salora Manager
Telefunken CreatiVision
Telefunken CreatiVision Personal Computing System
FunVision Comp Video Games System
FunVision Computer Video Games System
Some pictures courtesy of our good friend Adrian Scheel
     Non-licensed hardware releases
The CreatiVision had many authorized distributors during its production run.  There may be some unlicensed clones floating out there in the wild, but none have been confirmed as of yet.  The VZ-2000 model pictured above may be a clone, or prototype.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.
Console Design 07 The CreatiVision is not a small console by any means.  Since it could double as a personal computer, the design is rather industrial in nature.  Cartridges are inserted in the side of the unit which is cumbersome.
Console Durability 07 I have not experienced any issues with my console (MK I), but have heard of others that have had some minor problems with the expansion ports not recognizing attached peripherals.
Controllers 05 Though constructed of heavy plastics, the controllers feel fragile when getting into some heavy game play.  The keypad is well laid out with sufficient room between keys.
Graphics 08 The CreatiVision truly does shine in this area when compared to its primary competition.  Large sprites are colorful with minimal screen flicker.
Audio 07 Utilizing the TI SND76489 chip, the CreatiVision produces excellent sound effects across four channels (3 tones, 1 noise).
Media 04 Cartridges are rather small, which is not a bad thing.  The slanted front (ala ColecoVision) makes reading the title rather difficult when stacked.
Gamer Value 05 Though only 17 titles were released for this system, the offerings are quite good.  When you add in the ability to program your own games, the value increases.
Collector Value 07 The CreatiVision is difficult to acquire in North America.  The only NTSC version that was released was the Cheryco CreatiVision (Japan).  With its programming capabilities, the CreatiVision is an excellent addition for both the console and computer collector.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
CreatiVision cartridges came in rather flimsy, cardboard boxes that were similar to the packaging used for Atari 2600 games.  Two controller overlays were included with the software (ala Mattel Intellivision), with the exception of BASIC Interpreter which did not utilize them.  Due to the variety of hardware distributors, there are many variations for most CreatiVision games.  Below illustrates some for the game Air / Sea Attack.

Sample Game Play

VTech CreatiVision Game Boxes, Cartridges & Overlays
CreatiVision Air\Sea BattleCreatiVision Astro PinballCreatiVision Auto ChaseCreatiVision Chopper RescueCreatiVision Crazy Chicky
CreatiVision Deep Sea AdventureCreatiVision LocomotiveCreatiVision Mouse PuzzleCreatiVision Music MakerCreatiVision Planet Defender
CreatiVision Police JumpCreatiVision SoccerCreatiVision Sonic InvaderCreatiVision Tank AttackCreatiVision Tennis
     Captured in-game images
Air\Sea Battle
CreatiVision Air\Sea Battle Screenshot
Astro Pinball
CreatiVision Astro Pinball Screenshot
Auto Chase
CreatiVision Auto Chase Screenshot
BASIC Interpreter
CreatiVision CreatiVision BASIC Screenshot
Chopper Rescue
CreatiVision Chopper Rescue Screenshot
Crazy Chicky
CreatiVision Crazy Chicky Screenshot
Deep Sea Adventure
CreatiVision Deep Sea Adventure Screenshot
CreatiVision Locomotive Screenshot
Mouse Puzzle
CreatiVision Mouse Puzzle Screenshot
Music Maker
CreatiVision Music Maker Screenshot
Planet Defender
CreatiVision Planet Defender Screenshot
Police Jump
CreatiVision Police Jump Screenshot
CreatiVision Soccer Screenshot
Sonic Invader
CreatiVision Sonic Invader Screenshot
Stone Age
CreatiVision Stone Age Screenshot
Tank Attack
CreatiVision Tank Attack Screenshot
CreatiVision Tennis Screenshot
     First and third party system emulators

This emulator works for FunVision, Creativision and Wizzard games. It is compiled in SDL
so it can is playable on DOS, Windows and compiled for Linux operating systems.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
Rockwell 6502A (8-bit) 2 MHz Texas Instruments TMS9928\9929
VDP (video display processor)
1 Kb \ 16 KB
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
256 x 192 16 colors 32 Sprites Texas Instruments SND76489
(4 Channels - 3 Tonal, 1 Noise)
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge 18 KB 17 (cartridge-based) Cassette tape (Laser based systems)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
2 KB Cassette Tape (optional) Keypad \ Joystick Style Optional keyboard, printer
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) - Hardwired None Parallel I\O interface, Serial,
Cassette Tape Recorder
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: AC 220V, 50 Hz
Output: AC 16V, 250mA
None NOTE: The Cheryco version had a TI TMS9918 VDP, is NTSC and AC 100V
VTech CreatiVision Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.46 MB
Cheryco CreatiVision Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.63 MB
VTech Funvision Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.48 MB
Dick Smith Wizzard Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.57 MB
Hanimex Rameses Owners Manual (PDF) - 2.24 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Various CreatiVision \ Dick Smith Wizzard commercials and making of the MultiCart

Dick Smith Wizzard Promotion

     Visitor insights and feedback
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