Starship 1

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Starship 1
Developer(s) Atari
Designer(s) Ron Milner
Steve Mayer
Dave Shepperd
Dennis Koble
Platform(s) Arcade
Release 1977
Genre(s) Shooter
Mode(s) 1 player
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Atari System 16
Display Black and white raster, standard resolution

Starship 1 is an arcade game developed, manufactured, and released by Atari in 1977.[1] Starship 1 was later ported to the Atari VCS by Bob Whitehead as Star Ship.[2] According to research by Ed Fries, Starship 1 contains the first known Easter egg in any arcade game. Fries confirmed with Milner that by activating the machine's controls in the appropriate order, the player could have the message "Hi Ron!" (in reference to Milner) pop up on screen and let him play 10 free games.[3]


The object of Starship 1 is to destroy alien spacecraft while maneuvering through star and asteroid fields.

The game uses a first person perspective on a black-and-white monitor. The player's ship is controlled with a control yoke that is connected to two potentiometers. There is also a lever that controls whether the ship is moving "fast" or "slow".[4] Compared to common arcade games of the time, Starship 1 was comparatively advanced, but used quite a bit of analog technology that would become less common in arcade games in following years.

As enemies appear onscreen, the player tries to center the enemy in the crosshairs and shoot it with his "phasors" by pulling a trigger on the control yoke. Alternatively, the player has 5 "proton torpedoes" per game that can be fired by pressing a large white button on the dashboard. This will destroy any enemy ship on screen, regardless of whether it is in the crosshairs (which are painted directly on the screen).

The enemy ships are roughly patterned after ships from Star Trek: The Original Series and the title device from the 1967 episode "The Doomsday Machine".

The player does not view the game monitor directly; the monitor is recessed in the cabinet, and the player views a reflected image of the monitor in a half-silvered mirror with a space background.


  1. ^ Starship 1 at the Killer List of Videogames
  2. ^ Interview with Bob Whitehead from DP Interviews
  3. ^ Fries, Ed (March 22, 2017). "Chasing the First Arcade Easter Egg". 
  4. ^ Starship 1 service manual, Atari.