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Chafitz's "Space Age Fantasies" [1]

Chafitz (Chafitz Inc.),
a marketing and retail enterprise founded in the early '70s by Arleen and Steve Chafitz, located in Rockville, Maryland. Chafitz Inc. dominated the consumer electronics market when that industry segment was in its infancy with products such as electronic calculators, digital watches, handheld TVs, video games, consumer video recording equipment, telephone answering machines, pocket recorders and numerous other items. They have been credited with pioneering electronic games employing the early advances in Artificial Intelligence such as dedicated chess and Backgammon computers [2].


Chafitz Inc. launched their first dedicated chess computer called Boris in February, 1978 [3], running on a Fairchild F8 8-bit microprocessor [4] [5]. The computer was manufactured by Applied Concepts and had a program by David Lindsay [6].

Chafitz Modular Game System

By the end of the '70s Chafitz teamed up with manufacturer Applied Concepts Inc. and the German company Sandy Electronic [7] by Rainer Bäurle [8]. Beside their dedicated computers they produced and marketed the Chafitz Modular Game System (MGS), also called Multi-Game-System [9], as well the akin Great Game Machine by Applied Concepts, had exchangeable modules with programs written by Dan and Kathe Spracklen, and later under the steering of Applied Concepts, by John Aker, Larry Atkin and David Slate, all for the 6502 microprocessor. There were also other game modules available, such as Checkers [10], and the Othello program Odin by Peter W. Frey and Larry Atkin.


After Chafitz teamed up with Applied Concepts, they recruited Dan and Kathe Spracklen who were already renowned of their Sargon programs. Improved with the help of Terry Fredrick, Sargon appeared in 1979 as Chafitz Sargon 2.5 MGS module [11], and in 1980, the Chafitz ARB Sargon 2.5 [12] with a 6502 processor was launched to became a milestone for electronic chess computers and starts the era of sensory board chess computers.

Chafitz Experience

Kathe and Dan Spracklen on their experience with Chafitz and Applied Concepts, from their Oral History [13]:

  • Kathe Spracklen: And it was after Sargon III was created. They saw Sargon 2.2, and then later 2.5, they used on a program called the- they had something called the Boris Chess Machine. Actually, it was a multi-purpose game machine, and they had ...
  • Danny Spracklen: That wasn’t Fidelity though. That was Applied Concepts
  • Kathe Spracklen: Okay. Pardon me. Yes.
  • Danny Spracklen: Yes. Applied Concepts. They were a Texas-based company, and they came out with the Boris in a box, originally. And then they came out with a modular game system. And that had our Sargon 2.5 program on it.
  • Danny Spracklen: And that was before we became associated with Fidelity.
  • Danny Spracklen: Yes, it was scary. So. And then when things didn’t go really well with Applied Concepts - they didn’t come through for us, like they had promised - didn’t sell as many ...
  • Danny Spracklen: Well, they didn’t sell as many, and then they got in a lawsuit with their distributor, Chafitz. And actually, our contract was with Chafitz, and they were the people that marketed the product. The people that actually built the thing were Applied Concepts. Those two guys got in it, and so the whole thing kind of just fell apart. And eventually Applied Concepts just sold off all their units and kind of went out of the business.
  • Kathe Spracklen: Yes. And we essentially got nothing for it. So this risk, that Dan took, leaving his job to develop this.
  • Danny Spracklen: We got a little bit, but not nearly what we had thought we’d get.
  • Danny Spracklen: So, that’s about the time we started looking at Fidelity again. We got in contact with Sidney Samole, who was the President of the company, and he said, “Well, come out and see us and bring your- what you got out there and show it to us.” And so we got on a plane and flew out to Miami, and showed off our program to him. And they had their chief engineer, Ron Nelson, look at it, and they were impressed. And so they offered us a big contract, basically, to go to work for them, basically, fulltime. And we didn’t have to go to Miami. We could stay in San Diego.

Applied Concepts

After the lawsuit between Chafitz and Applied Concepts, and the Spracklens left for Fidelity, Applied continued with the Chafitz brand name and programmers John Aker, David Slate and Larry Atkin on their Great Game Machine and the Chafitz Modular Game System with the Morphy program [14] in conjunction with the Gruenfeld and Capablanca modules, and the Destiny Prodigy computer [15] [16].


After discontinuing Chafitz, Arleen and Steve Chafitz came to the full circle from producing and selling electronic devices to recycle them, to found e-End [17], headquartered in Frederick, Maryland [18], offering businesses in recovery and remanence of data, as well as hazardous waste disposal of all types of electronics of any size, and computer recycling [19].

Associated People

See also


External Links


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