Analogue's 1.1 firmware beta release enhances the Pocket's functionality and includes several enhancements focused on extending the capabilities of 3rd party developers. These additional capabilities provide developers with OS-level tools, settings, and configurations required to successfully create and deploy new cores for the system using the device's field programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware. Cores equate to functionality that mimics a computing or console platform at the hardware level.
FPGA's utilize configurable logic blocks and programmable interconnects to enable reprogrammed components to perform different functions with the same hardware, unlike ASICs and platforms.
Analogue demonstrated the system's potential by including a fully functional implementation of what some consider the first real video gaming platform, the Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1).
This DECminicomputer (an ironic term by today's standards) provided the foundation for Spacewar!, a space combat game developed by computer scientists working with the MIT PDP-1 implementation in the early 1960's.
A 3rd party developer "Spacemen3" recreated the PDP-1 and Spacewar! using the original source code in the public domain: https://t.co/xFS3ARmaUe pic.twitter.com/ut6N6Ovois
For anyone unfamiliar with 1960's computer technology, the PDP-1 weighed in at a massive 1,600 pounds and had a 4,096 word memory capacity enabled by magnetic tape.
As far back as the mid 1990s, the gigantic main cabinet and peripherals, shown above at the Computer History Museum, provided computing power that was roughly equivalent to handheld electronic organizers and calculators.
In 1962, a group of computer scientists and engineers at MIT collaborated on a two-player spacefight that was not just a groundbreaking idea for a computer game. The game's mechanics and elements would later provide the foundation for many of the most popular titles ever made, including the 1979 classic Asteroids.
The game has been voted one of the greatest computer game advances ever, has been included on many lists citing the greatest video games of all time and was even nominated to be preserved in the United States Library of Congress' official game collection.
Analogue claims that the Pocket is not technically designed to play copyrighted ROM files from the SD card slot; it is instead intended for firmware updates and other enhancements to support the device itself. What they do support, whether intentionally or not, is the ability to digitally patch and sign ROM files with a GB Studio signature.
The Pocket was initially offered via pre-order in August 2020, and began shipping to customers in Q1 2022. According to the company's FAQ, orders will continue to be shipped in 2022 and 2023.