Cosmac VIP (VP-711)
Cosmac VIP (VP-711)



Setname:  vip   
Year: 1977
Manufacturer: RCA
Status: imperfect  badworks
Type: Training Board
Clones: Cosmac VIP (VP-111)
Emulation info
Overall emulation:  good   
Color emulation:  imperfect  
Sound emulation:  good  
Graphics emulation:  good  
Savestates:  supported   

Tech info
 Base hardware: (available in all slot configurations)
CDP1802 ("u1")cpu 1760640 Hz
Speaker ("mono")audio
DISCRETE ("discrete")audio
Screen ("screen")raster horizontal 100 x 246 @ 60.000000
Media devices
quickload ("quickload") quickload quik bin, c8, c8x
cassette ("cassette") cassette cass wav
RAM options
2K 2048
4K 4096
Software lists

 Optional hardware: (available with specific slot configurations)

 Configure the slot options for vip:
 Slot Value

Show detailed info about 'Configurations' of this system

Internal Speaker Off

Show detailed info about 'Slot Options' of this system
Slot options

NameValueCompatible device(s)
byteio asciivp620
exp basicvp700

Romset info
ROM NameSizeCRC32SHA1Dump StateBIOS option
cdpr566.u10512 5be0a51f40266e6d13e3340607f8b3dcc4e91d7584287c06good
chip8.bin512 438ec5d58aa634c239004ff041c9adbf9144bd315ab5fc77good
chip8x.bin768 79c5f6f8ed438747b577399f6ccbf20fe14156f768842898good


* CPU: RCA CDP-1802 1.7609 MHz (4.54 microsecond per machine cycle)
* Co-Processor: RCA CDP-1861 video chip
* RAM: 2 Kb, upgradeable to 32 kb
* ROM: 4 kb CMOS ROM + 512 byte Monitor ROM
* Text Modes: Texts are displayed using graphical features
* Graphic Modes: 64 x 32
* Colors: Black & white
* Sound: 1.4 kHz tone generator. Ouput may be connected to any small standard 8 ohm speaker
* I/O Ports: Video output, tape cassette interface (100 bytes per second)
* Keyboard: Hexadecimal membrane keyboard, 16 keys
* Built In Language: CHIP-8 interpreter
* Peripherals: Expansion interface, Parallel I/O interface


MESS supports vip emulation with a "cassette" (cass) device, for cassette tapes in .wav format.

Also notice that a "quickload" (quik) feature is available for .bin and .c8 files (the latter are files for the CHIP-8 interpreter).


This system requires full keyboard emulation to work correctly. At startup, full keyboard emulation mode is enabled by default. Whilst in full keyboard emulation mode, some key associated functionality may be disabled (like the ESC key for EXIT). The keyboard emulation mode is toggled using the "Scroll Lock" key (by default).

RAM options

Different RAM configurations are possible for the vip in MESS. You can switch between them, changing the -ramsize parameter. At command line, you simply have to add ''-ramsize ram_value'', where //ram_value// can assume one of the following values

4k (default)

Known Issues

The driver is almost complete, with some remaining issues (e.g. missing emulation for some expansion boards)

History and Trivia

Very early home computer for TV connection

The Cosmac VIP, originaly named VP-111, is a typical hobbyist "single-board" computer sold as a kit. You had to build it yourself ! The system uses a RCA CDP-1802 microprocessor like the RCA Studio II video game system. In fact the Studio II is very similar to the VIP and
can be considered as its video-game version. But the VIP is also somehow an improved version of the original Cosmac Elf board system, described in Popular Electronics magazine, august 76 and the following months. The CDP-1802 CPU was also used as the heart of the Voyager, Viking and Galileo probes ! Until recently the 1802 was quite popular (for alarm systems for example) thanks to its CMOS technology ideal for low power systems.

The Cosmac VIP has a most basic hexadecimal keyboard (16 keys). The language stored in ROM is called CHIP-8 and is only 512 bytes long ! It consists of 31 instructions each of which is two bytes (or four hex digits) long. It's a kind of simplified machine language. 16 one-byte variables are provided. Subroutine nesting and machine language inserts are permitted. CHIP-8 was quite popular at that time (Telmac 1800, ETI 660 and DREAM 6800 used it) as it allowed to program video games easily. CHIP-8 was not only used in the late 70's and early 80's. It was used in the early 90's on the HP48 calculator because there was no programming tools to develop fast games on it. Then, a better version of CHIP-8 appeared: SUPER-CHIP. This interpreter has all the CHIP-8 features, as well as and some new ones like a 128*64 resolution (source: David Winter).

RCA also sold Tiny Basic, a simple Basic interpreter, as a 4K ROM on an expansion board.

With this system, basic functions are : type programs into RAM from the hex keyboard, save and load programs on tapes, display memory bytes in hex on CRT, step through RAM contents and examine microprocessor registers. Wow.

The Cosmac VIP is equiped with a sound chip and a real-time crystal clock. The sound produced can be heard through the tape output connector. It was delivered with some documentations (CHIP-8, machine language) and listings of 20 video games !

To the left of the hexadecimal keyboard are a reset switch and LED indicators for power-on and cassette operation. Memory add-ons, expansion port and parallel interface are pre-wired on the motherboard but have to be implemented as options. With the I/O interface, you could connect interface relays, sensors, printers or ASCII keyboards.

(info from


* VIP at --

Other Emulators

* CHIP-8 Emu --

Edit the History info for this game.


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