Forgotten consoles: The Super Book RK
Some consoles are the stuff of legend. Heroes that stand astride the path of life, leaving indelible marks upon our soul. Some are mythical, elusive treasures we yearned for yet never claimed. Others are simply forgotten. An afterthought in the annals of time. The Super Book RK is one of those such consoles.
The Super Book – RK was designed and created by Radovish Karbinci Elektronic, a Yugoslav electronics manufacturer based in what is now North Macedonia. (The company was named after the two towns it sat between. The factory is still there today, though slightly run down.) The Yugoslav government was keen to cash in on the home computer and games market at the start of the eighties and set about a plan to build a low cost home computer and games machines.
The Radovish Karbinci Elektronic Home Book, a home computer and video game hybrid was the first attempt. Originally made from ground up copies of confiscated Yugoslav pornography mixed with glue, it came bundled with both a keyboard and a primitive turn paddle. It was even said that on some machines, the paint quality was so bad you would often see a faint buttock or bare breast under the console shell paint.
However, even with such a low price chassis build, the cost of hardware and manufacturing needed to compete with machines flooding in from Asian markets at the time was just too much for Radovish Karbinci. Two models of this early version exist today, one in a Soviet arcade museum in Moscow and the other in the hands of a private collector.
Asian Investment in Super Book – RK
Realising the potential cost, the Yugoslav government reached out to electronics firms in the far east for a joint Yugoslav/Asian venture. The Uaoi Uri firm of Osaka took up the offer. Uaoi Uri suggested that the team should attempt to concentrate on the market in Yugoslavia and the U.S.S.R, creating a cheap, affordable console that could be shipped out across the continent. The government of the U.S.S.R. was keen to buy home computers at the time. It had been decided they could combat boredom and rising levels of incest in remote Siberian towns. With Asian backing and orders from the Russian state, the Super Book – RK went into development.
It was a huge success. The console flooded out across the U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia. The company even struggled to produce games in time because of the rapid growth. Part of the allure was because the system came bundled with two paddles that fit neatly into the machine, allowing co op play straight out of the box. The paddles were also much easier to hold than a joystick, ideal for people with extra fingers or webbed hands. In the first year of production 2 million consoles were shipped to Siberian towns.
Seeing the success of the Super Book – RK across Russia, the Yugoslav government were keen to market the product to Western audiences. They began to license software and game production to British companies such as Ocean and Gremlin ready for launch. U.K. stores such as Tandy and Rumbelows began to stock the Super Book. Europe was ready and prepped for a huge explosion of Super Book – RK.
However it was not to be. At its launch it was competing with the likes of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Games were overpriced and poor quality. Titles such as ‘Oxbow Lake Poacher’ and ‘Samurai Geometry’ failed to capture the imagination of the public. Despite being a huge hit in Yugoslavia and the U.S.S.R. the Super Book was quickly deemed a massive failure in Europe.
The Super Book Today
The consoles themselves are very rare now and thus command a high price. The poor build quality means that casing often perished before the actual electronics inside. Pictures do surface online occasionally. One picture emerged recently of a sports extension controller which is possibly a prototype. It plugs neatly into the Super Book and lets you play tennis, hockey, water polo, badger baiting and a game entitled ‘Whip the Gypsy’.
Games are much easier to come by and at Updownleftrightastart we are attempting to build a database of games released in the UK and Europe. If you have any games or promotional material please let us know. Did you ever have a Super Book RK? Do you have fond memories of a Super Book RK? Tell us below