Sunday, September 17, 2017

The EVR mystery solved (sort of)

A warning up front: this post is somewhat of an anti-climax.

Nintendo EVR Race from 1975 was a video based race simulation system. It utilised the Electronic Video Recording (EVR) moving image display technology.

Two versions of EVR Race were made: horse racing and car racing.

Nintendo EVR Race cabinet - with a horse racing game

Multiple EVR Race cabinets could be linked up for multi player games (in this case car racing)

Some five years ago, I acquired two EVR Race reels in a Nintendo arcade lot. The sale included only the reels, not the EVR Race cabinet itself.

Video is usually associated with magnetic tape. But these EVR reels contain film that is electronically converted to a video (TV) image by the EVR player. It's a really unusual system, applying a technology that was never later re-used. [More information about the EVR system can be found in this post.]

Both reels were labeled Video Derby Game (ビデオ ダービー ゲーム), and I was obviously very curious to see what footage was on them. Not having an EVR player myself to check this out, I looked for support online. However, contacting various video and film preservation institutions around the world did not lead to any result; I could not find anybody with a EVR player.

But then, after many years, an email dropped in my inbox: a gentleman from the UK named Robin, let me know that he owned a working EVR player. In fact, he owned two! He offered his help to play my reels and convert them to a modern video format.

The EVR player used to play my EVR Race reels

Robin owned two Hitachi EVR players, with model number EV-1500E .

I sent the reels to Robin and anxiously awaited the result. He soon let me know that he had popped in the first one.

I hoped (expected, I must admit) to see a string of horses galloping by on the screen.

Detail from EVR Race brochure

The good news was that the reel still worked, which was a small miracle by itself, not having been used for over forty years. But unfortunately the only image it contained was a number of test screens!

And sadly, the second reel was much the same.

Although it was quite special to finally find out what was on these reels, the end result was a bit disappointing.

It turned out these reels had been used, most likely, only to test or calibrate EVR Race systems.

The output of my EVR Race reels

As a final note, I want to thank Robin for his gracious help.


  1. This is the first time in recent history I have seen an operational player. I worked on the video circuits for Motorola's version. The chief production engineer from Motorola's Quincy Illinois plant has one that needs work. Unfortunately, the only schematic we have been able to find is a preliminary version, and I know much of the circuitry was redesigned by Motorola before production. One of the problems that the original CBS design had was a chroma phase shift with horizontal linearity, and the color bars you have posted seem to be showing this on the yellow/cyan transition. I redesigned the chroma section of the Motorola players to use linear phase bandpass filters instead of bandstop, to fix this problem.

  2. There was a whole cabinet on Yahoo Auctions last year, albeit in poor, unworking condition, and it looked like the tape reels were there.

    1. Yes, I spotted that one as well. Was priced way too high, and did not sell, I believe. Still, quite rare, so nice to see.

  3. I am currently in search of reels with anything on them as I have acquired a Motorola Teleplayer.