Designing a handheld electronic pinball game in 1979 #VintageComputing @kitchengarry

Garry Kitchen documents making handheld electronic gamed circa 1979, specifically the handheld pinball game Wildfire.

Mattel had had great market success with the Mattel Football handheld electronic game (1977), motivating our engineering consulting company to try to break into the electronic toy business. Parker Brothers had a problem and they badly needed a solution. They were sitting on the concept of their next hit electronic toy, but they didn’t have an engineering firm to design the production unit. They said “sure, we’ll do it.

The team had to go from a $3,000 prototype to a manufacturing cost of about $10 per unit.

From a hardware standpoint, the microprocessor that we chose to use for Wildfire was the AMI S2150, made by American Microsystems Inc. (AMI). It was a 4-bit microcontroller, with 1.5 KB of ROM for the program, and a robust 40 bytes of RAM (costing about $4).

For the “display,” the game used a circuit board with about 70 red LEDs (light emitting diodes) mounted on it, positioned to define all of the potential paths of the pinball as it moved around the playfield.

And the programmer they hired didn’t come up with a working code base:

We had a program, but we no longer had a programmer. We had no idea what was right, or wrong, with the possibly random list of words that I had typed in.

Sprinting down the hallway and almost out of sight, I heard an echo of “great Garry, why don’t you take a crack at it and see what you can do?” The die had been cast. The savior had been chosen, and it was I.

As I sat there stunned, I was reminded of that age old poker adage — If you’re sitting at a poker table, and you can’t identify which one of the players is the sucker, you’re the sucker.

See more in the fun article here.

 


As 2022 starts, let’s take some time to share our goals for CircuitPython in 2022. Just like past years (full summary 2019, 2020, and 2021), we’d like everyone in the CircuitPython community to contribute by posting their thoughts to some public place on the Internet. Here are a few ways to post: a video on YouTub, a post on the CircuitPython forum, a blog post on your site, a series of Tweets, a Gist on GitHub. We want to hear from you. When you post, please add #CircuitPython2022 and email circuitpython2022@adafruit.com to let us know about your post so we can blog it up here.

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 32,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — Pololu’s account of the chip shortage

Wearables — Stay frosty

Electronics — High voltage logic

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: New Releases of MicroPython and CircuitPython and more! #Python #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF

Adafruit IoT Monthly — 2021 in Recap!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — JP’s Product Pick of the Week — 4pm Eastern TODAY! 1/18/22 @adafruit @johnedgarpark #adafruit #newproductpick

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.