Bespoke Arcades

Month: August 2016

The History of Arcade Machines from 1971

Early Arcade History 1971

In the early 1970s, video games were still in their infancy and mainly consisted of computer installations which were not practice for use within the mass market. Although it was to be a while until video games entered the ‘Golden years’, significant events were starting to turn heads in 1971. This was due to the introduction of two of the first arcade machines, ‘Computer Space’ and ‘Galaxy Game’.

Computer Space

Computer Space is considered the first ever arcade machine, created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney (under Syzygy Engineering) in 1971. The machine is held up as the first commercially produced video game, and its creators went on to co-found Atari together in 1972. The gameplay consists of the player controlling a rocket that is battling two flying saucers, which was designed by Bushnell and Dabney as a coin operated game Spacewar (1962). The machine was originally designed to have a wooden cabinet, however the cabinet was finally decided to be made of fibreglass, and curved for a futuristic design.

There were many early design flaws present in Computer Space, as Bushnell and Dabney ran into many problems in the engineering of the machine. After months of hard work, the two decided that instead of coding the game on a computer, the most efficient method for creating the game would be to make specific hardware to ensuring that the game ran as it was designed.

Initially, 1,500 units were ordered for release in November 1971, as the production company, Nutting, expected an optimistic reception of the game. However, by the spring of 1972 the game had sold 1,000 units. Nutting was disappointed with the sales of the Computer Space, however, after making $1,000,000 from sales Nutting was able to fund production of a two player version of the machine.

Galaxy Games

Around the same time of the production of the Computer Space, another two young entrepreneurs (Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck) had the similar idea of adapting Spacewar to a coin-operated machine. This machine used a fully operational computer to run the game and it therefore held the capability to play multiple games of four monitors. As this game was produced after the Computer Space it is the second video game that charged gamers per play.

The prototype for the Galaxy Games machine cost $20,000 to build, and was designed as a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11 minicomputer attached to a wooden cabinet which included a monitor, controls and seats.

The game charged players 10 cents per game or 25 cents for three games, with the winner being awarded with one free game. The gameplay was for two players, where players battle by the means of two monochrome spaceships (the ‘Needle’ and the ‘Wedge’), with a gravitational force occupying the central star.

The prototype was placed in the Student Union at Stanford University where it had shown to be very successful and was receiving a lot of attention. The second prototype made by Pitts and Tuck and placed in the café in the student union, however it was not used to its capacity, as due to limited space only two monitors out of four were used.

Regrettably, when Pitts and Tuck had completed the second prototype, $65,000 had been invested in the project. Pitts and Tuck had no way of making up the cost through just the earnings from the machine or had the ability to commercially produce the machine for a retail market. The two prototypes are kept in the Computer History Museum in California and are still available to play.

London Film and Comic Con 2016

As many of you may know, on the 29th-31st July, Bespoke Arcades attended London Film and Comic con. We’d like to say an enormous thank you to all that came to see us and play on our machines. And a massive well done to Ant and Ben who were the lucky winners of our competition, winning a prize of a PS3 and a copy of Injustice!

It was a pleasure meeting gamers of all ages, and seeing them enjoy the ultimate retro gaming experience on our arcade machines. With classic games ranging from Pac man to Street Fighter, there was a game for everyone to enjoy. Even for the incredibly talented cos-players, with the likes of the Joker and Godzilla himself showing up to play their retro favourites, which was particularly enjoyable to see! Also, it was amazing to see parents introducing their children to unforgettable games that were enjoyed from their own childhood, passing on a love for arcade gaming down to a new generation.

We love being able to give retro gaming fans the chance to play on a variety of our machines. Bringing along one of our Apex, Synergy, Evo and Nu Gen models. We also gave the opportunity for visitors to try out our brand new Virtual Pinball Machine, being released later this year. Which has proved to be a favourite of all those who came to see us over the weekend! With realistic graphics and gameplay, audiences enjoyed masterpieces such as Terminator 2: Judgement Day and the Addams Family in a fresh way to experience gaming, it isn’t hard to see why it was a crowd favourite. Additionally, we ran a competition on this machine on the Sunday of the show, the winner achieving a score of over 48 million on Terminator 2!

Furthermore, the show itself was a wonderful experience! We all had a fantastic time meeting everybody and watching everyone enjoy the machines and the games that we brought along. We also enjoyed trying out new forms of gaming, such as Virtual Reality, which were being showcased at London Film and Comic con this year! Once again, thank you to all that came to play on our machines over the weekend. Likewise, a special thank you to all those who signed up to our upcoming newsletter and participated in the competitions that we ran over the course of the show. We hope to see you at the next show!