I’ve always been interested in ‘pinball firsts’. Especially during early Solid State games.
Although Firepower wasn’t the first talking game and not the first Multiball game, it arguably did have at least 3 ‘firsts’. Much of the programming for lane change and other firsts may have been done by Eugene Jarvis.
1. Lane change- where the unlit lane can be lit under the ball by flipping the right flipper. On most modern games, the right flipper moves the lit rollovers right, left flipper moves them left.
2. First SS Multiball, I believe. Williams also trademarked MultiBall ™
3. Playfield / Digital display animation. The countdown to multiball was an early animation, others followed and eventually the DMD animations.
Star Light 1984 (last Williams System 7 game, and First System 9 game. only 100 produced)
Did you know that they designed the first optical switches on a commercial pinball for Star Light- but as 100 were produced, the design didn’t make it into production. Only a prototype. They also made a System 9 model of a few of these games. See http://www.firepowerpinball.com/2ya/7-sl.html for some info on why Willams ‘pulled the plug’ on Star Light. Super Trucker was sold by JC Penny as a cheap home use only model (was $499 cheap in 1980?) in 1980 and claimed the optical switch innovation for pinball. But I have decided not to count that as it wasn’t a production arcade pinball game.
Space Shuttle Williams 1984
This is the first *solid state production* pinball machine to have a playfield toy. Yes, other games with a toy on the playfield existed before this. Chicago Coin 1964 South Pacific is a notable example, with a rotating plastic plane moved with a solenoid and ratcheting wheel.
Space Shuttle may also have been the first to combine CPU, Driver, and sound boards into one big Motherboard. First Williams System 9 game, I believe. System 6/7 speech board was still retained as a ‘daughter board’ at that time.
Twilight Zone 1993
TZ was the first mini-playfield with flipper controlled magnets to flip the ball. Used during ‘Battle the Power’ mode.
Arguably the first analogue clock on a playfield that told the real time and moved in relation to modes and gameplay.
“More patent pending features than any game in history” A gumball machine on the playfield that captured and dispensed real pinballs, a ceramic ‘powerball’. Probably tons more that I’m not going to try and list here. Do comment if you have more or a link to a summary.
Flipper Football 1996 / Cirqus Voltaire 1997
Display on the playfield ‘under the glass’. Flipper Football had a 256x64 HD DMD - balls hit on the drop targets under the DMD triggered an animated ball that continues on the DMD. This I believe was the first, although Cirqus Voltaire foloowed in the next year with a more standard DMD which was also well integrated into the gameplay. It’s nice not to have to look up during mutiballs or to see animations. CV is one of my fav later games and I have played the Whitewood in Chicgo.
Feel feee to elaborate or add more games to this thread. As I said, I think innovation is an interesting topic. Lately it would have to be ‘first with multicolor LEDs’ or ‘first with LCD HD display as a backbox’ but maybe RFM and Nucore beat any production game to that. Nucore also added a ‘personal jukebox’ to your Pinball2000 game. Way before other add-ons did.