The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console that was developed by Western Technologies/Smith Engineering. It was licensed and distributed first by General Consumer Electric (GCE), and then by Milton Bradley Company after their purchase of GCE. It was released in November 1982 at a retail price of $199. As the video game market declined and then crashed, the Vectrex exited the market in early 1984.
Unlike other video game consoles, which connected to televisions and rendered raster graphics, the Vectrex has an integrated vector monitor which displays vector graphics. The monochrome Vectrex uses screen overlays to give the illusion of color. At the time, many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and GCE was looking to set themselves apart from the pack by selling high-quality versions of games such as Space Wars and Armor Attack.
Vectrex comes with a built in game, the Asteroids-like Minestorm. Two peripherals were also available for the Vectrex, a light pen and a 3D imager.
Western Technologies/Smith Engineering briefly considered designing a handheld version of the device in 1988. However, the impending release of the Nintendo Game Boy made such a project too risky. In 1992, Smith Engineering released the duplication of the Vectrex system image and cartridges for non-commercial uses and has been pleased to see that it has still-thriving developer and user communities.
Because of the system's uniqueness, it has inspired a loyal group of fanatics who have created emulators, web pages, and even new games.
Foremost among these homebrew Vectrex programmers is John Dondzila, whose first ever contribution to classic console gaming was the 1996 Vectrex game Vector Vaders. In 1999, he produced the first ever 64K Vectrex game, Vecmania, which contains several different games all on one cartridge. Sean Kelly at one point sold a Vectrex multicart - a single cartridge that contains almost the entire library of Vectrex games. Others have produced Vectrex versions of Frogger and Galaxian, among others, making Vectrex possibly the most supported 'dead' console, second perhaps only to the Atari 2600.
Jay Smith, an engineer who was previously an employee at Mattel and had started the videogame company Smith Engineering/Western Technologies donated the original 'Mini Arcade' 1982 handmade prototype and the later Color Vectrex Prototype to the CGE museum in 1999.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Vectrex price guide: sold listings for a value indication.