Midway, Atari, Williams, Bally, Sega… Just a few of the companies that created many of the classic arcade video games from the 1970s and 1980s. Starting with simple monochrome games and evolving to multicolor games with music and sound effects, these companies along with others created a new industry and a new obsession for kids like me of that era: coin op video arcades.
Coin op games like pinball had been around for decades. But the revolutions going on in computer processors, memory and video displays coupled with lots of imagination created a whole new form of entertainment. And the effects of that revolution are still felt today with the home console video game industry worth billions of dollars annually. (If you’re interested, Wikipedia has a timeline of arcade video games.)
The games look positively primitive today. Back in the day, though, they were totally awesome and we fed them quarters by the truckload. Heck, I remember being in high school or college and visiting our local mall and its Aladdin’s Castle Arcade. The mall also had a branch of the bank where I had a savings account. And I had my passbook. I went to the bank three times and withdrew money that quickly fed those coin op games. In one afternoon, I blew like a hundred bucks which, in the mid ’80s, was worth a fair bit more than it is today.
But, now, thanks to the Internet Archive, you don’t need quarters or tokens to play many of these games. As Mashable reported, the Internet Archive has posted 900 classic arcade games online! You read that right, 900. Some are classics, like Zaxxon, Sinistar, and Defender. Others…well, not so classic, but still fun if only for nostalgia. And, they all play in your Internet browser for free. If you’re not old enough to remember these, you’ll probably think they look…well…primitive. But, imagine how the latest Call of Duty or Madden will look in 20 years when your kids are in their total sensory immersive rigs complete with Smell-o-vision playing Madden 50.
Got a few days free? Try them all.
Early MTV Music Video