TV/GAME Switch Overload

October 8th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

It happens to the best of us.

TV Game Switches on eBay

How many of these puppies do you have sitting around? A fellow on eBay is selling a lot of 36. I’ll have to admit: I have a box of a few dozen myself.

TV Game SwitchThe object in question, of course, is the once-essential manual RF switch, commonly known as a “TV/GAME” switch. Such switches were used to alternate between RF video/audio input from a video game system or home computer and a broadcast (or cable) TV antenna signal. They went the way of the dodo in the mid-1980s — first in Japan with the introduction of Nintendo’s innovative automatic RF switch box (it came packaged with every Famicom produced from 1983-1993), and then in the US around 1985 with the introduction of the NES (which included an automatic switch box with every unit sold). Later, RF switches in general became endangered once nearly all consumer TV sets started shipping with separate A/V jacks for composite video and stereo audio. The choice was natural, as video quality through an RF antenna input is inferior to a composite video connection.

Atari 2600Even among collectors, manual TV/GAME switches are mostly useless these days because most of us try to make at least composite (or better) video connections to our TVs, either via special cables or modifications to the systems themselves. Still, if you want to play classic machines like the Atari VCS without video hacks, you’ll probably need to use one.

Does anybody out there collect these things? We’d love to hear from you.

12 Responses to “TV/GAME Switch Overload”

  1. Charles S. Says:

    Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with those things. Amazing that somebody’s selling 36 of them! 🙂

  2. Patricia Says:

    This is so funny that i happen come across this page. I’m in need of one of these right now as we speak. My switch box for the 80’s ColecoVision just broke. What the hec lol…..

  3. j r Says:

    i too am in need NOW of a computer/tv switch for my old atari game……..
    anyone know where i can find them?

  4. Greg Harrington Says:

    It is quite nice that I have found this site. Please send me an e-mail and tell me where I can purchase a new game switch for my Nintendo. I want this quite a bit to continue living in the past. I also love the fact that their are other
    people obsessed with this stuff.
    Thank you very much

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Hey Greg,

    I’m not sure where you can buy one. Nintendo’s official online store might have them available, and you can always get them on eBay. Then again, Radio Shack probably sells a generic equivalent of Nintendo’s automatic RF switch in their stores or online.

  6. Elaine Fessler Says:

    I need the game switch for an old atari. How and where can I purchase?

  7. C Says:

    I have one of these but for the life of me I can’t get it connected to my Sega Genesis

  8. GC Says:

    Hey Benj

    not sure if you still have any of these but I just dug up Telegames motocross sports center.

    but its missing the switch box, so I was looking to buy one somewhere when google took me here.

    any chance of help?


  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    Check out this site for your options:

    I recommend buying the “Coaxial (F-type) to Female RCA Adapter
    Radio Shack part #278-276” featured on that page.

  10. Alan Doofenshmirtz Says:

    Oh god I have one of these, my brother got one with a SEARS AND ROEBUCK Atari 2600 clone he bought. It still works!

  11. Diana Says:

    I have an opportunity to buy a used (of course) Atari 2600 console system, two controllers and 50 games. But here’s the thing: the plug that goes to the TV will need to be replaced. The RF adapter and wire is not connected. Not sure where to get another RF adapter and for how much. Do you think the system, it’s controllers and 50 games all together is worth $50 without knowing if it works because of the plug issue?

  12. Tyrone Jackson Says:

    Yo yo I be wonderin how they gets all dem switches. Aint no one need dat many. Who gonna pickup da whole lot? what they gots 36 game systems? I’z gots only 2 of my own and only one bein used for my atari. Yo I play dis thang for hours an dats what I be usin dat for. It be hard to find a dyagram of da inside like da circut bord and thangs hooked up inside. Cant find one on google and i wanna make my own. I think da atari plug go to da box an then it be changed to rf by some kind a coil thang what ya’ll think?

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