Bespoke Arcades

Birth of Arcade Series

Pong – Early Arcade History 1972


1972 was a pivotal year in the development of the gaming market. In this year, Atari was formed and released their first gaming cabinet – Pong. Pong arguably marks the turning point for arcade games as it is held up to be one of the first video-games to reach mainstream channels and such heights of popularity; in 1975 was even released on a smaller console so that it was widely available for people to play at home. …

Early Arcade History 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.

Space Invaders Arcade Machine – Birth of the Arcades No. 1

Space Invaders Gameplay Screen34 years ago in June 1978; Space Invaders was created by a one-man army, Tomohiro Nishikado. It rapidly became such a massive success in Japan that it resulted in a major coin shortage, so much that the Japan mint had to press a huge number of ¥100 coin pieces to feed the retro gaming hunger! Space Invaders has had numerous remakes, ports and sequels on multiple arcade machines and by 2007 the game itself had made well over $500 million and is featured in the book of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2008. This amazing retro arcade game has created many more firsts in the world and the gaming industry.

Space Invaders is the alien zapping two dimensional fixed shooting game. The aim of the game is simple yet brilliant, your mission is to repel the horde of aliens coming closer and closer to you while hiding behind your destructible barriers and dodging enemy fire. The arcade soundtrack is a simple tune set in loop which changes in pace as your progress further and further into the Space Invaders.

Did you ever imagine where the shoot ’em up genre originated? It all began with Space Invaders and the results are game titles such as Call of Duty, Doom and Wolfenstein which have been critically acclaimed within the genre. Another first is that the game began the craze for highscores, and if you’ve played other retro arcade games you’ll find that quite a large proportion of them feature a prominent highscores board whether it be in the game or when the game is over.

If like me you’ve spent hours and hours playing this game you’ll be at home playing this game on one of our highly exclusive Arcade Machines. The game is available on all of the Apex, Synergy and Evo arcade machines manufactured in the UK by Bespoke Arcades.

Have a look at some nice gameplay on an arcade machine: