Cartridge (electronics)

A module (german cartridge, " cassette" ), is a storage medium that came as a media for game software for game consoles and home computers used. In this context it is also referred to as a play module. With the beginning of the platforms Channel F and the Atari 2600, it was first used almost universally, however, redeemed by Optical drives and memory cards in the 21st century. After modules have been used only as memory cards for saving game scores until they were rendered obsolete by the use of there is currency in the console memory in consoles.

The data (program, graphics and audio) are stored on electronic devices ROMs or PROMs. To store a savegame serve on most subsequent modules EEPROMs.

The housing is made of plastic; inside there is a circuit board on which in addition to other electronic components, are the ROMs. The conductor tracks which are connected with the components end in gold-plated contacts, which project on the bottom of the module. By inserting into the card slot of the game console (which should be done with the power off ), thus the microprocessor has access to the external application data.

A special module is the Double - Ender by XONOX, which has both at the top and bottom through contacts and thus two game modules houses in one.


  • Low ( barely noticeable ) loading times compared to optical and magnetic storage media, because there is no mechanism for reading the data is required
  • From the manufacturers' point of view, it is advantageous that copying a module is extremely complex and is therefore practically not practiced. However, it is with special equipment readily possible to read and store as binary data on other media such as a hard disk or a flash module which usually copyrighted content of a module.
  • Modules are compact, rugged and insensitive to vibrations, as they contain no moving parts - This is one reason why modules are often used in portable game consoles.
  • Modules can include additional hardware, which enable over those initially planned capabilities of the console beyond continuous, such as a graphics chip for producing special effects. A prominent example is the Super FX chip, which was used in some SNES game cartridges.
  • Modules are more energy efficient than optical storage media.
  • Modules are quieter than optical storage media, because no moving parts are required to read the data.


  • High production costs compared to optical storage media such as CD -ROM and DVD.
  • Due to the relatively small storage capacity barely video and audio sequences can be integrated into the games.
  • Scores that are battery backed stored on the module will be lost when the battery is empty. They may be replaced manually.
  • There are no devices available to end users in order to make copies of modules, which can be used as a module back to normal. With special hardware backups on other media such as flash memory or hard disk can be written. ROMs to the hard disk can be emulated on computers with an emulator.


As a portable game console is a complete electronic hardware environment (processor, screen, power supply), game consoles and their modules are misused to do measurement or control tasks. The modules can be modified in such a way so that the game consoles perform a control program corresponding thereto by those modules, and an electrical connection to the outside.

So Elektor projects were published by the magazine, which describe how modules need to be rebuilt for game consoles Game Boy series to use the game console as a digital storage oscilloscope as a programmable logic controller or as electrocardiograph can.

Game consoles and home computers that use the module technique ( by year )

  • Fairchild Channel F (marketed in Germany as the Saba Video Play 1976)
  • Atari 2600 (aka Atari VCS, 1977)
  • Interton VC4000 (1978 )
  • Texas Instruments TI -99 /4 ( 1979) and TI-99/4A (1981)
  • VC 20 ( Abroad, first known as the VIC 20, 1981)
  • Commodore C64 (1982 )
  • Atari 5200 (1982)
  • ColecoVision (1982 )
  • MSX (1982)
  • Sega Master System (SMS, 1984)
  • Atari 7800 (1984)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System ( NES, 1985)
  • Sega Mega Drive ( 1988)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (1989 )
  • Atari Lynx (1989 )
  • Amstrad GX4000 (1990 )
  • PC Engine GT (1990 )
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System ( SNES, 1990)
  • Sega Game Gear ( 1990)
  • Neo -Geo (1991 )
  • Atari Jaguar (1993 )
  • Nintendo 64 (1996 )
  • Neo Geo Pocket, Game Boy Color (1998) with EEPROM to store the saved game
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color (1999)
  • Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001)

Game consoles that are based on Flash Cards ( by year ):

  • Nokia N -Gage (2003)
  • Nintendo DS ( 2004)
  • Nintendo 3DS (2011)
  • PlayStation Vita ( 2012)