This was the first 3D game system to ever be released... Sega tried to claim that they were the first when they released some LCD goggles 4 years later, but were forced to pull all of their advertising due to the fact that the Vectrex 3D Imager was truly the first.
The 3-D imager spins a disk which is half black and half colored bands that radiate from the centre (usually red, green and blue) between the viewer's eyes and the Vectrex screen. The Vectrex is synchronized to the rotation of the disk (or vice versa) and draws vectors corresponding to a particular color and/or a particular eye. Therefore only one eye will see the Vectrex screen and its associated images (or color) at any one time while the other will see nothing. This color discs are delivered with the 3D-games.
The 3D-Imager was only sold in the USA in early 1984 and in a small amount - literally the first in the gaming industry to have 3D. Released a full 3 to 4 years before Sega's LCD version - who later had to pull a TV commerical claiming they were first. In Sega's TV ads they initially advertised their goggles as being the first. The ad was pulled shortly after for obvious reasons. It wasn't until about a dozen years later that 3D games and analog control really took off in home consoles. Today the Vectrex 3D Imager is presumably for collectors one of the most searched items in the genre of videogames.
3D Imager Googles
The Vectrex 3D imager plugs into the extra controller port on your Vectrex unit. You plop this beast onto your dome, and it sits, quite uncomfortably, onto the front of your grill. Then, when a "3D Cartridge" is played, you can enjoy luxurious 3D gaming - in color! This tricking of the vision requires extra steps in drawing of objects as well. From the Vectrex faq: "A single object that does not lie on the plane of the monitor (i.e. in front of or into the monitor) is drawn at least twice to provide information for each eye. The distance between the duplicate images and whether the right eye image or the left eye image is drawn first will determine where the object will appear to "be" in 3-D space. The 3-D illusion is also enhanced by adjusting the brightness of the object (dimming objects in the background)." The 3D Imager worked by spinning a translucent wheel in front of the eyes... 1/2 of the wheel was black, the other was colored, so that only one eye at a time would see the screen. The image was drawn twice onscreen with a slight shift... one for each eye to give "depth" to the image.
This design led to some unique problems with the glasses. Sometimes double images were seen due to natural human focus problems. Likwise, the wheel produced a gyroscopic effect that caused the disk to want to stay put when a person wanted to turn their head.
Only three games were ever released for this awesome Vectrex accessory. 3D Minestorm (which came bundled with the unit), 3D Narrow Escape and 3D Crazy Coaster. Though three other games were never released. Some homebrew games have been released by vectrex fans.
Original games for the 3D Imager developed and published by GCE
3D Mine Storm
3D Narrow Escape
3D Crazy Coaster
3D Pole Position
Homebrew Games for the 3D Imager
3D Sector-X (uses 3D Mine Storm color wheel) by FURY UNLIMITED in 2010