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Johnny – Dot Matrix Display

Johnny – Dot Matrix Display @ Blondihacks.

I decided it’s time to tackle what I assumed would be the most challenging problem with poor Johnny. I was not wrong to assume that, but I learned a lot along the way. The area in question is the Dot Matrix Display. These were added to pinball machines in the early 1990s as a tool for game designers to create more gameplay depth. It allows the game to display much more detailed state information, as well as introducing mini-games (called video modes) played on the display itself. Interestingly, these “DMD”s have become so iconic of pinball that they have persisted long after more advanced alternatives became practical. People love orange dots! Interesting side note about that- for some reason, the conventional jargon for the picture elements on these displays is “dots”, not “pixels” as you might expect. I’m not sure why, but I’ll use that nomenclature in this article.


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