The 1970s were a deeply confusing time. Formica countertops were everywhere, shag carpet was popular, dark wood paneling (combined with shag carpeting) conspired to make the interior of every home a place where visible light went to die, and virtually every consumer product came in either vague pastels or eye-searing colors that could drive a cat to frenzy.
Evaluated by the decorating standards of the day, the JVC Videosphere is a brilliant piece of hardware. It’s a TV built into a space helmet, modeled on the astronaut uniforms shown in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Designed as a portable TV, the Videosphere came with its own portable carrying chain (shown below) and could be wired up with a 12V cable plugged into a cigarette lighter. Some early versions came with a rechargeable battery pack as well. Now a hardware modder in the UK has demonstrated how one of these TVs can be wired up for modern gaming — and that’s impressive, for several reasons.
As this Wikipedia image shows, the Videosphere only had a simple channel knob. In the UK models, at least, there are no native RF inputs. These inputs are the basic building block of how we hooked up VCRs or game consoles to our televisions in the 1980s. In the same way that HDMI ports deliver that capability today, a small RF adapter labeled “GAME” on one end and “TV” on the other was the mechanism by which we rocked out on Combat or Adventure. But what do you do if you can’t use the RF cable inputs?
You hack the aerial RF input, that’s what. The one thing every TV did have, back then, was a connection to a TV antenna. The process for connecting PC hardware if you want to connect to a Switch, you just need an HDMI to Component video connector, followed by a component to RC converter, provided by way of a VCR, before a spliced RF cable is attached to =the aerial itself.
As for the content, it looks surprisingly good. That’s going to be helped, to an extent, by the fact that the screen is small. I can’t find exact details on the screen size of the JVC Videosphere, but the few records I did find suggest a 38 square inch display. Using 4:3 display characteristics, this suggests a roughly 9-inch diagonal. This also tracks with the display being explicitly intended as a portable TV that you could actually run in a car or off a battery pack.
As the author says: For a 43 year-old TV, this doesn’t look half bad.
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