Today I took my daughter to the last remaining arcade from my youth, the Redondo Beach Fun Factory. I wanted to give her a chance to ride some of the vintage electro-mechanical vehicles in the establishment before they all disappear. While we were there, I went looking for an Atari Hercules p’inball machine that they had for many years, but it was no where to be found. However, in the back corner, I was surprised to find a genuine, working, Atari Pong machine (circa 1973).
The machine was standing in cluster of vintage and vintage inspired machines. However, in the position you can see just how small the machine looks next to a relative giant like Asteroids Deluxe. I got closer to the machine because I wanted to see if it had the original instruction of “Avoid Missing Ball For High Score” and in fact, it did.
I also noticed the original Atari logo etched into the metal control plate. I had forgotten about this early version of the logo. I think I need to incorporate it somehow into our Atari Pong Developer Challenge Entry
I realize that people who go to vintage gaming shows see these machines all the time, but not me. I’ve never been to any kind of classic gaming show, so for me this was quite a sight to see. At the same time, this machine was in the wild. It’s not the kind of machine that is kept in bubble wrap and cleaned with baby diaper on Sunday afternoons. The Redondo Beach Fun Factory is not exactly a museum. It caters to hardcore “L.A.”crowd that does not exactly treat these games like antiques or collectibles. For instance, the vintage Space Invaders machine had some nastly grafitti scratched into the front glass:
So seeing a working, vintage Pong machine at this place was kind of shocking. Since the original Pong is a two player game only, I challenged my daughter to a game. This was the first time I actually put a quarter into a real Atari pong machine. I’ve played Pong ion the past, but always knockoffs, never the original Atari version.
The controls were not very responsive (the original knobs were missing), and there was a video glitch on the screen (visible above), but it was still thrilling to play an original Atari Pong machine in a setting that has changed very little since the game was first released. It came at a perfect time, and it gave me a couple ideas for our Pong game entry.