Automated Simulations (Epyx) was one of the very few companies surviving from way back in the late 70’s and all the way up to around 1990 a pretty good feat when most other companies either went bankrupt or where acquired in the onslaught of the early, mid and late eighties.
Epyx became the companys official name in 1983.
Most will probably remember Epyx from the years 1984-1988 when the c64 were the most popular gaming platform in north america, releasing games like Summer Games, Winter Games, Mission Impossible etc.
But Epyx actually started with CRPG’s and strategy, releasing Starfleet Orion as its very first game in late 1978.
With the time running out for the C64 Epyx took on David Morse, who just a few years before with his engineering team revolutionised the home computer business with the Amiga. Morse was also the guy who put Amiga into the safe arms of CBM (Commodore Business Machines).
Morse took the company in a whole new direction. In secrecy Epyx starting to develop their own hardware – one of the first handheld video game consoles, know as the Epyx Handy (the Potato by the engineers)
Epyx weren’t totally new to making hardware, their high-end joysticks had done very well but as time would tell there was a long way from Joysticks to completely new developed handheld console hardware (and software for that matter).
As the eighties started to wind down Nintendo has swept across North America finally destroying the C64 as a viable platform making it harder and harder for Epyx to survive and while putting almost all the money into the Potato project – both hardware and software development, Epyx struggle to keep a float.
In 1989 Epyx licensed their handheld development to Atari, who named it the Atari Lynx.
Epyx was unable to fulfill its contract with Atari to finish developing the Lynx hardware and software and Atari withheld payments that Epyx really needed.
By the end of 1989, Epyx discontinued developing computer games and began making only console games and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to Stephen Landrum, a long-time game programmer at Epyx, the company went bankrupt “because it never really understood why it had been successful in the past, and then decided to branch out in a lot of directions, all of which turned out to be failures.