Exidy was one of the largest creators of arcade video games during the early period of video games, from 1974 until at least 1986 (when Chiller was released ). The company was founded by H.R. "Pete" Kauffman. The name "Exidy" was a portmanteau of the words "Excellence in Dynamics."
Exidy found competing with larger video game companies such as Atari Inc. difficult. The company's Lila Zinter claimed in 1983 that "Exidy is an innovator, but ... we have a hard time breaking through the politics of getting a game a fair chance."
Under the leadership of visionary Paul Terrell of Byte Shop fame, Exidy made a brief foray into the personal computer market, with the Exidy Sorcerer in 1978. The Sorcerer was a modified S-100 bus based machine, but lacked the internal expansion system common to other S-100 systems. It made do with an S-100 expansion card-edge that could connect to an external S-100 expansion cage. The Sorcerer also featured an advanced (for the era) text display that was capable of 64 characters per line, when most systems supported only 40 characters. The Sorcerer did not support sound, color, or in some respects, graphics, which seems at odds with the company's video game background; however, the characters it displayed were programmable by the user. The system was never very popular in North America, but found a following in Australia and Europe, notably Belgium. Exidy licensed the Sorcerer computer and its software to a Texas-based startup called Dynasty Computer Corporation in 1979. It was relabeled and sold by Dynasty as the Dynasty Smart-Alec.
One of Exidy's efforts aimed at trivia lovers during the 1980s was the quiz game Fax, a multi-level game housed in a large wooden cabinet that stood about 4 feet high and looked nothing like other video games of the time period. Much like the 2000s game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, players were shown a series of questions with four possible answers. A point value "clock" ran down to zero after answers were shown, meaning players answering quicker earned more points for their correct answers. (Incorrect answers incurred no penalty.)
Beginning in 1983, Exidy released a series of light gun games, the first and most well known of which was Crossbow. These presented an unusual twist to the light gun genre: the goal is to protect characters walking through the screen by shooting things which are trying to kill the characters. These games were also the first to feature fully digitized sound for all sound effects and music. Other "C" series games include Cheyenne, Combat, Crackshot, Clay Pigeon and Chiller. Chief designer for these games was Larry Hutcherson. Exidy also made two rarely seen motion cabinet games with vector graphics called Vertigo and Top Gunner. Chief game designer for this game was Vic Tolomei.
Another somewhat successful game from Exidy was a driving game named Top Secret. This game featured a spy car with advanced weaponry on a mission inside the Soviet Union to destroy a heavily guarded Top Secret super weapon. Game designers for this game were Vic Tolomei, Larry Hutcherson and Ken Nicholson.
In 2007, the MAME website announced that H.R. Kaufmann had released the first of what would become a sizable group of Exidy games downloadable for free, non-commercial use, adding Circus to the already-released Teeter Torture. By 2011, with the help of Reinhard Stompe, the list of ROM images included Circus, Robot Bowl, Car Polo, Side Trak, Ripcord, Fire One, Crash, Star Fire and its unreleased upgrade Star Fire II, Targ, Spectar, Hard Hat, Victory, Teeter Torture, Fax and Top Gunner. The ROM images were cleared only for non-commercial use and may be downloaded from the MAME website after the user acknowledges the terms of usage.
- Pearl, Rick (June 1983). "Closet Classics". Electronic Games. p. 82. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Obsolete Technology Website
- Flippers Web Site image of FAX game
- James Hague, "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers: Hutcherson, Larry W. Sr.", 24 January 2010
- Mean Hamster Software
- MAME | Multiple Arcade machine Emulator "New ROMs and Wiki Content", February 27, 2007, accessed June 15, 2011.
- MAME | Star Fire (Exidy, 1979) Undated; images last modified October 26, 2010, accessed June 15, 2011.
- MAME | Multiple Arcade machine Emulator "New Free ROMs Posted", January 25, 2011, accessed June 15, 2011.
- The Dot Eaters Article featuring a history of Death Race and Exidy