Oddity Archive: Episode 124.5 – Ben's Junk: VTech Socrates Educational Video System



(conversation overheard at VTech, 1988)
Boss: What’s a name that sounds good and smart for our quasi-educational video game console?
Engineer: Um, Socrates!
Boss: Is he smart?
Engineer: Yeah.
Boss: Perfect! What’s for lunch?

NOTE: I wrongly referred to the alkaline battery corrosion as “acid”. It’s actually more basic–rendering my baking soda cleaning attempt moot.

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  • i had one as a kid. right before i got a real thing i went through crap like these lol

    T salas July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I used to have one of these

    rusty otf July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • What REALLY intrigues me is, how was software developed for this system?

    The Original Gamer July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Had this when I was a kid never got it to work though

    Don_of_Dons July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • duuuuuuuuuuuuude i had one of these i loved it !!

    Genmotion Makers July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Dude I had one of these as a kid, and I distinctly remember thinking, this cat (the robot) is a direct rip-off of Johnny 5!

    MediumSpeed HighDrag July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I remember when this was launched in Colombia. I remember this was advertised as an education device. Even the slogan said: “Socrates, it is presented once every two thousand years”

    Nolberto Roa Pulido July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I just hope that grinding lag and unresponsive control is due to the metric buttload of battery acid that flooded that thing.

    prismstudios001 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had one of these as a kid! We also had a Genesis and a NES and yet I still spent an untold number of hours with this thing. It had a lot of art and puzzle programs. I don't know, it was a lot of fun, the art programs especially. I think it was because of the way the programs made you think a different way than the regular video games we were all used to. Yea it was super slow but it also played some funny music whenever it was working through stuff. The suspense was part of the enjoyment, somehow. I seriously loved this thing as a kid, loved it as much as the other consoles.

    Rupert Murdock July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had one of these when I was but a wee lad. It was the second video game system I ever had.

    Ray Ceeya July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had this when i was a kid!

    SidTheJerkNSFW July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Man. I had one of these as a kid. I was in 1st grade and having problems with math. This made it bearable for me, but I dont think it really was a substitute for me just studying. Awesome memories!

    Enrique Pinero July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Damn you sure beat up Socrates

    Nick Draco July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • The main system was "For Ages 5 and Up", with the cartridges varying from 5 and Up to 8 and Up. The Touch Pad was more for preschoolers though (3 and Up). Mine was equipped with the Talking System since I got mine around 1990 after I turned five. I still have it, along with the State To State, Amazing Mazes, and Around The World cartridges, as well as the manuals for each. And I'd say you got a good deal on that unit, just check out the eBay completed listings!

    pannoni10 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I was 4 years old and me and my brother who was 6 played this in the 90s

    Kadi Rebel July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I vaguely remember that.

    Nicholas Tosoni July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I’m 35 and remember having this when I was a kid.

    Otter Green July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had this console as a kid. Believe it or not, I actually have fond memories of this thing, but Hodge Podge is EASILY the worst cartridge for this console. It's made for "younger" children. The cartridge came with a special pen pad controller that barely worked. The question would be "Draw a circle". And the pen would randomly not register on sections of the pad depending on your aim with the IR device, the pressure you apply, how fast you draw and how worn out the pad is. Even if you were lucky enough to get the pen pad working properly, it would judge you harshly for not drawing a perfect circle like some robotic freak.

    I still own almost every piece of video game technology I was given as a kid, but when it came time to pack this thing into the attic, I threw Hodge Podge and the pen pad controller into the trash! It's probably the only video game I've ever thrown away in my whole life.

    testing1567 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Alright, admit it, who is here to figure out what this thing is because of ItsAlexClark

    Ean Sudholtz July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • My mom bought me this thing because I already had Nintendo and I guess she felt like this would make me smarter lol. It sucked so friggin bad man I was like 5 yrs old and it didn't even work properly for starters. The cords were so short. I couldn't figure anything out lol overall just a shit product. Don't think I actually sat and played it for more than 10 mins and it sat in my closet for yrs. I had nes, snes and genesis but this thing??? Never got used. I clicked to see if you could even get this thing properly working

    John Perkins July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • That blue thing is the place holder for the voice cart.

    MilkieBear July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Jebus and I thought the loading times of the PS1 were awful.

    trekchu July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Love the graphics but would be frustrated by the slow controller response

    Angel Ledezma July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • back in second grade one of my classmates had one of these, every Friday my teacher would let her bring it in and we all got to use it. I saw this picture on LGR's Thrifts videos did a google search and your video came up. That thing was bad ass at the time.

    Sub-C July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had one of these and thoroughly enjoyed it. After our Adam Coleco computer died I got this. Then after a couple years I got to have a true 8086PC. Then I got a real computer. IT WAS SLOW… but the games were educational. I am a college professor now so it didn't hurt.

    Hontas Farmer July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I loved playing this when I was young!

    J Tackett July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had this as a kid. I had a lot of fun with it at the time.

    Garrette July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had this console.

    Jake Black July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • You know, this console existe in France with the name of "Professeur sait-tout" and it traumatised me when I have 7yo. Thank to exorcise my nightmare <3 (No joke)

    FIT Powered July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Not sure if anyone's said this yet but, WHAT A SHITLOAD OF FUCK!

    dorourke105 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I used to have one. I think my circle was orange. Not blue like yours. I know that color of blue was on the system but there was also a shade of orange. My power switch was orange. I know that for certain. I vegged on it a few times at least when I was 3 or 4 trying to complete as most as I could when I was little. I used to be a perfectionist. Had the biggest fits sometimes over little shit. I was born in 1985 and had a NES by the time I was 2. I was pretty bright. Top student and all that good shit. Mike Tyson's Punch Out and Paperboy were favorites of mine. I'm pretty high right now(first time in exactly 3 weeks so my tolerance has lowered) so my apologies for my brief trip down memory lane

    Tim Clark July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I actually had one of these when I was a kid, and believe it or not, I loved the shit out of it.

    Nonya Bizz July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • as a guy who played this when I was 4… I had no idea what was going on.

    leion800 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I had the french version, and it started with a menu with the socrate bot face at the bottom of the screen with a giant green thought cloud, and on it, it had menus of like nine games i think, i shit you not, and i can't find it anywhere, do you know about that?

    Serum Fighter July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Who else came from Alex Clark?

    Critiri July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • this was my all time favourite toy when I was a kid

    darkshadopaaz July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Every time I see the words "Ben's Junk", I hope my VidAngel add-on is enabled. ;P

    Jody Barker July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Glad to see that this is getting the full Oddity Archive treatment. This machine was the stuff of my nightmares for years as a kid. Here's a video I made about it years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OohjR-qt-f0

    William Sisskind July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • Socrates! I loved that thing!

    Valkyrja - July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • The average penis is longer than that controller cord.

    Gabi Axinte July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • I think I might have one of these, picked up at a thrift store but never used. I don't have any software for it, though.

    The casing and keyboard would make an interesting modding project for a Raspberry Pi. Throw away the original guts, replace with a Raspberry Pi, wire up the keyboard for Bluetooth (have it recharge the battery when put back in the cradle) and redesign/rebuild the "controllers" – maybe make them swappable with D-pad and multiple button configurations for whatever emulation you might run on it, or replace one controller with a trackpad. I wish I had the electronic skills to do that kind of thing with mine.

    Steve W July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply
  • They had a voice cartridge available for this system. There are some YouTube videos that demonstrate that cartridge add on.

    BBC600 July 3, 2020 5:12 pm Reply

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