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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

Big Trak from Milton Bradley (1979)

bt-keypadBig Trak’s 24-key membrane keypad was used to program up to 16 commands at a time.

Released in 1979, Big Trak was a computerized, battery-operated, futuristic-looking tank. Along with Simon and Merlin – The Electronic Wizard, the toy tank represented yet another example of the microprocessor-driven consumer electronic toy craze of the 1980s.

Milton Bradley’s six-wheel tank utilized two power sources. A single 9-volt battery powered the toy’s Texas-Instruments TMS-1000 microcontroller, while four D-batteries powered Big Trak’s two electronic motors.

Using the 24-key membrane keypad on top of the vehicle, budding programmers could plan a course of movement for the Big Track. Up to 16 possible commands could be used, such as “go forward two lengths”, “turn 30 minutes left (180 degrees)”, and “Hold (pause)” for a certain amount of time. The toy also included a “photon beam”, located at the front of the toy, which could be programmed to fire during dangerous missions.

Big Trak was programmable to move up to 99 “lengths” at a time. With a single length corresponding to roughly 13-inches, this means that the tank could cover approximately 100 feet of indoor terrain in a single programming session.

Big Trak could also be accessorized with an optional wagon, the Big Trak Transport. Powered by its own D-battery, addition could be attached to the toy and used to haul cargo. The transport could also be programmed to dump its content on command via the “OUT” key on the keypad.

Explore classic toys and games that captured our attention and never let go.