Atari Corporation
"Middle Earth" Pinball Machine

[Picture of Pinball Machine]

    Atari Corp. brought forth in 1977 one of the very early microprocessor - controlled arcade games. This was a pinball machine based around a Motorola 6800 8 bit processor. Several different pinball games shared the basic hardware architecture; changes in cosmetic appearance and minor software alterations were the only differences between them.

    All sensors on the table are scanned, or polled, in sequence, and appropriate actions are taken based on the ROM-based main program. Individual actuators, or solenoids, are directly controlled from the CPU through high power Darlington drivers. Indicators and lights are multiplexed across 4 separate groups, also driven by Darlington pairs (in this case on ICs rather than discrete packages).

    Since the platform is computer controlled, fairly extensive self tests and diagnostics are provided in the basic ROM for use by maintenance, and management, personnel. There are many operator configurable options that can be selected via DIP switches on the main PC board.

    Indicators on the playfield are standard type #47 incandescent bulbs; digital displays (scores for each of 4 players, current ball number, and available credits) are gas - discharge displays driven through high voltage transistors.

    Given the temporal proximity in which this game was released and the classic movie Star Wars * debuted there is a discernable Star Wars influence in the game art- work, especially in the back- glass. While not clearly visible in the photo above, both the buxom blonde warrior and burly male being held aloft by the gorilla are both carrying light sabres.

    * Link connects to The Internet Movie Database .

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Last Modified: Mon May 26 06:46:42 EDT 1997