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Blip: The Digital Game

Ah, Blip. The digital game.

animation of the Blip being played against the computer

Blip is essentially a Pong clone, made in 1977 by Tomy, but one with a bit of a difference. For starters, though it takes two AA batteries, it doesn't have a screen, yet still its box brags of its ability to be played without a television - this sounds like some powerful black magic.

So how did they do it?

top view of the Blip

To make a long story short, Blip hasn't a digital bone in its plastic body.

top/side view of the Blip

This thing is in fact mechanical, head to toe. The only electronics in it power the red LED that plays the part of the ball in the game. The inside is a jumble of springs and levers, moving that LED around in a pattern that isn't quite random.

Tomy put out a couple of these machines, including a racing game and a space shooter, all utilising a similar mechanism. It's really a remarkable thing - in a time when 'digital' was a hot ticket and mechanics were old hat, it paid to contruct this complicated a contraption and sell it as digital and newfangled.

bottom/side view of the blip

One can play against another player, or against the infallible, invincible "computer". To start the game, a timer must be wound up, which tightens a spring that powers the game. Then, either of the two players can launch the ball. Whenever someone doesn't press the right button in time, their opponent's counter goes up one point. The game ends when the motor runs out, or when the timer starts over after a count of ten.

picture of the instructions on the bottom of the Blip

Mine came in its box, which was in very nice shape considering its age. Below you'll find some scans, which you can click to enlarge them. Note that most of the big print is in German. In Germany, this device was marketed as the Blip-O-Mat, though the unit itself still reads 'Blip'. The box boasts entertainingly of the fact that you don't need a television to play on it ('spielbahr ohne TV-Gerät').

the front of the box the Blip came inthe back of the Blip's box, with instructions and safety warnings and such

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