From Sega Retro

DatelElectronics logo.png
Founded: 1981[1]
Govan Road, Fenton Industrial Estate, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, ST4 2RS
Stafford Road, Stone, United Kingdom, ST15 0DG

Datel (previously Datel Electronics) produced a wide range of hardware and peripherals for home computers in the 1980s, for example replacement keyboards for the ZX Spectrum, the PlusD disk interface (originally designed and sold by Miles Gordon Technology) and the Action Replay cartridge.

Datel was and still is the brainchild of Mike Connors, who has been mentioned in the The Sunday Times (UK) as one of the country's top 100 richest people.


Datel Electronics was formed in the early 1980s by Mike Connors, selling AM citizens band (CB) radio devices in the United Kingdom[2]. While a 27MHz CB radio band had been operating in the United States since 1958 (being adopted by small businesses, truck drivers and radio enthusiasts), the UK did not establish a similar band until 1981. Prior to this, all CB radio equipment imported from the US was deemed illegal, but the opening up of this market gave Connors and Datel an opportunity to capitalise on this new market.

Some years later, Datel began expanding their business into the world of home computing, designing and manufacturing peripherals for the ZX Spectrum and later Commodore 64. The company would strike gold with the release of the "Action Replay", a device for the Commodore 64 which allowed software to be modified in real time; this would spawn a range of devices for computers and consoles alike over the next twenty years.

Datel became interested in the video game console market in the early 1990s and the launch of the Sega Mega Drive. While the Mega Drive launched in Japan in 1988, it took nearly two years to officially arrive in the UK, however demand was high, giving birth to a so-called "grey market" in the intervening years, with many gaming enthusiasts owning imported Japanese (and later North American) consoles and games. Attempts at region locking (such as the physically different shape between Japanese and European Mega Drive cartridges) led to Datel to create the Universal Adaptor, a device that would allow imported titles to run on a European Mega Drive (and vice versa).

Datel would follow the Universal Adaptor up with a Mega Drive Action Replay cartridge in 1991, which could intercept instructions between software and hardware and modify games on the fly. It was not the first device to offer such features to console users; US-based Galoob had released the Game Genie for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990, however the Action Replay (and especially its pro models) was more flexible and beat the Mega Drive Game Genie to market.

Datel never obtained an official license from Sega to sell its devices, and for a while were only obtainable directly from Datel through mail order. While attempts were made to establish a foothold in the US, the company would eventually form a relationship with InterAct Accessories, selling its Action Replay products with "GameShark" branding. This was a huge success for InterAct's business until 2001, where troubles with InterAct's parent company saw the brand sold to rivals Mad Catz.

In 1993 Datel Design & Development Ltd. was established, becoming the front face of the business.

The company was still producing similar region lock-out and cheat software for consoles as late as 2013, and remains involved in the video game business to this day.

Accessories produced

External links