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> “A computer was too slow to do anything at video speeds anyway. So once Ted had invented his motion circuit, this trick, you didn’t need the computer anymore.”

I'm surprised to learn that Pong had no computer, no microcontroller, no software! Just analog and digital circuits.

I started learning about digital logic a few years after Pong came out, and hefore microprocessors were affordable.

It didn’t take long to realise that Pong was an insanely clever masterpiece of digital design.

It looks like the simplest thing ever, but it stores and manipulates representations of three objects plus two score fields, composites them into a 2D representation, and converts that representation into two linear video scan signals - all with discrete logic.

It’s mindbendingly brilliant.

> "Atari’s Arcade Pong PCB contained 66 IC’s. Gates and flip flops of every kind, a pair of 555 timer IC’s and a few transistors. It was simply hard wired TTL logic and predates microprocessor and software controlled video games."

Source: http://www.pong-story.com/LAWN_TENNIS.pdf

In the late 80s, I had gotten hold of a Pong table.

Went to explore it, as it was not working, I was amazed to see no CPU. Inside, there was a C sized paper blueprint of the schematic. Wish I still had it.

Timers, latches, etc... the circuit was the game. Very cool.

There was a Gamers exhibition that went through Melbourne and Wellington where you could play older versions of Pong and Asteroids, among tons and tons of other games old and new.

One of the amazing things about retro arcade games like Asteroids was just how clear and precise all those vector graphics were. When they're being drawn with analog circuitry with those perfect darks and brights, you get a really immersive world from a very simple concept. It was really amazing.

To be clear, the Asteroids era arcade units had microprocessors (Atari coin-op engineers tended to use 6502s then), in addition to a boardful of glorious digital and analog stuff to drive the vector display.

You'll definitely want to read Jed Margolin's "The Secret Life of Vector Generators"


And "The Secret Life of XY Monitors"


(Jed was an Atari engineer during the vector era and beyond)

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