Stern (game company)

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IndustryArcade games
United States
Key people
Gary Stern
Sam Stern
ProductsArcade video games, pinball machines
OwnerGary Stern

Stern is the name of two different but related arcade gaming companies. Stern Electronics, Inc. manufactured arcade video games and pinball machines from 1977–1985, and was known for 1980s Berzerk. Stern Pinball, Inc., founded in 1999,[citation needed] is a creator of pinball machines in North America.

Stern Electronics, Inc.[edit]

Stern Electronics was formed when the Stern family bought the financially troubled Chicago Coin in 1977. Chicago Coin's assets were purchased at bankruptcy sales forming the core inventory of Stern Electronics, Inc.; however, as a separate company, they did not assume any of the debt Chicago Coin had amassed.

The first two games made by Stern were Stampede and Rawhide, both originally made by Chicago Coin, which only had changes made to their branding and logos. After a weak start, Stern Electronics' sales started picking up by the end of 1977. By 1978, they had switched over to fully solid-state electronics for their games. In 1979, Stern acquired the jukebox production assets of the bankrupt Seeburg Corporation, and the company became known as Stern / Seeburg. Coincidentally, Seeburg also owned Williams in the 1960s, when Sam Stern was its president.

When arcade video games became popular in 1980, Stern Electronics produced Berzerk. In 1983, Stern became one of many victims of the amusement industry economic shakeout that occurred. In 1985, Stern Electronics left the amusement industry. Personnel from Stern Electronics formed a short-lived venture known as Pinstar, producing conversion kits for old Bally and Stern machines. Gary Stern was the president of Stern Electronics, Inc, Pinstar Inc, and Data East pinball.

Stern Pinball, Inc.[edit]

By 1999, the pinball industry was virtually dead and Williams stopped manufacturing pinball machines and focused on gambling devices as WMS Gaming. During the same year, Sega left the pinball industry and sold its pinball division, previously purchased from Data East in 1994,[1] to Gary Stern, the son of Sam Stern. In October 1999, Sega sold the pinball portion of its company to Gary Stern, who had been running Data East/Sega pinball since 1986, and Stern Pinball was born.[1][2][3] Stern Pinball, Inc. is based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

As of 2020, longtime designers Steve Ritchie, Brian Eddy, John Borg, and George Gomez are designing pinball games at Stern Pinball, alongside former professional player Keith Elwin.

Some Stern pinball tables were also digitally released through The Pinball Arcade and Stern Pinball Arcade.

Notable pinball machines[edit]

Stern Electronics[edit]

  • Disco (1977)
  • Pinball (1977)
  • Stingray (1977)
  • Stars (1978)
  • Memory Lane (1978)
  • Lectronamo (1978)
  • Wild Fyre (1978)
  • Nugent (1978)
  • Dracula (1979)
  • Trident (1979)
  • Hot Hand (1979)
  • Magic (1979)
  • Cosmic Princess (1979) (Produced in Australia by Leisure and Allied Industries under license from Stern Electronics Inc)[4][5]
  • Meteor (1979) (Highest production of all Stern Electronics' Pinballs)[5]
  • Galaxy (1980)
  • Ali (1980)
  • Big Game (1980) (First game to incorporate seven-digit scoring in the digital era)[6]
  • Seawitch (1980)
  • Cheetah (1980)
  • Quicksilver (1980)
  • Star Gazer (1980)
  • Flight 2000 (1980) (Stern's first game with multi-ball and speech)
  • Nine Ball (1980)
  • Freefall (1981)
  • Lightning (1981)
  • Split Second (1981)
  • Catacomb (1981)
  • Viper (1981)
  • Dragonfist (1982)
  • Iron Maiden (1982) (Unrelated to the British heavy metal band)
  • Orbitor 1 (1982) (Featured a 3d-vacuum formed playfield with spinning rubber bumpers causing frenetic ball action; it was the company's last released game)[5]
  • Cue (1982) (Six machines built)
  • Lazer Lord (1984) (One prototype built)

Stern Pinball[edit]

  • Harley Davidson (1999; 2nd revision 2002; 3rd edition 2004 slightly updated of the Sega game)
  • Striker Xtreme (2000)
  • Sharkey's Shootout (2000)
  • High Roller Casino (2001)[7]
  • Austin Powers (pinball) (2001, designed by John Borg and based on the Austin Powers film series)
  • NFL (2001) (basically a modification of Striker Xtreme)
  • Playboy (2002) (Design by George Gomez and Dwight Sullivan)
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon (2002) (produced by Pat Lawlor Designs)
  • The Simpsons Pinball Party (2003)
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (pinball) (2003) produced by Steve Ritchie Productions [SRP])
  • The Lord of the Rings (2003)[8] (Design by George Gomez)
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! (2004, produced by PLD, based on the series Ripley's Believe It or Not!)
  • Elvis (2004) produced by Steve Ritchie Productions (SRP), also 500 Gold/LE models exist
  • The Sopranos (2005, based on the series The Sopranos)(Design by George Gomez)
  • NASCAR (Grand Prix in Europe) (2005; produced by PLD)
  • World Poker Tour (2006) produced by SRP
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (2006) (based on the movie Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • Dale Jr (600-unit limited edition,[citation needed] based on the NASCAR game with new Dale Earnhardt, Jr, #8 art package)
  • Family Guy (pinball) (2007; produced by PLD)
  • Spider-Man (2007; produced by SRP, based on the Spider-Man films)
  • Black Suited Spider-Man (Limited edition version of Spider-Man game with new art package, mirrored backglass, webbed chrome side armor and shaker motor)
  • Wheel of Fortune (2007) (based on the TV show Wheel of Fortune)
  • Shrek (2008) (based on all three movies; produced by PLD; modified version of Family Guy)[9]
  • Indiana Jones (2008) (based on all four movies)
  • Batman (2008) (based on the films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight)[10](Design by George Gomez)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008; produced by PLD, based on the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)[11]
  • 24 (2009; produced by SRP, based on the TV show 24)[12]
  • NBA (2009) Lonnie Ropp, Gary Stern (designers) Based on the older Sega pinball Space Jam
  • The Lord of the Rings Limited Edition (Dec. 2009) gold mirrored backglass, shaker motor, gold package.
  • Big Buck Hunter (2010) John Borg (designer)
  • Iron Man (pinball) (2010) John Borg (designer) Based on the film Iron Man[13]
  • Iron Man Classic (2010) (home edition)
  • AVATAR (2010) John Borg (designer), Based on James Cameron's AVATAR[14]
  • AVATAR Limited Edition (250 units) James Cameron's (2010) shaker motor, Chrome trim, white powerball, additional code, moving AMP suit feet, motorized transporter pod lid, and additional figures added.[15]
  • Rolling Stones (2011) Rolling Stones theme[16]
  • Rolling Stones Limited Edition (350 units) Includes a real screened backglass, white powerball, shaker motor, 2 under playfield magnets, up-post and 2 outer post ball savers activated by 2 additional flipper buttons.
  • TRON (2011) John Borg (designer), Based on Tron: Legacy[17]
  • TRON Limited Edition (400 units) Chrome trim, Color changing fiber optic light tubes that run on both ramps, additional code, moving recognizer toy, and 4-bank drop targets instead of stand ups.[18]
  • Transformers 2011 George Gomez (designer)[19][20]
  • Transformers Limited Edition (500 units combo edition) Includes a shaker motor and additional features, added Megatron drop target and firing cannon, upper Ironhide mini playfield, moving Starscream moving platform as well as powder coated crimson and violet trim and legs.
  • Transformers Limited Edition (125 units Decepticon version) All the same features as the combo except an exclusive art translite and all violet trim.
  • Transformers Limited Edition (125 units Autobots version) All the same features as the combo except an exclusive art translite and all crimson trim.
  • AC/DC (2012) Steve Ritchie (designer)[21]
  • AC/DC Premium A full featured design geared toward the enthusiast with all the features that the designer intended[21]
  • AC/DC Limited Edition Back in Black (300 units) Same features as the Premium but with added shaker motor, a larger 12" subwoofer, as well as a distinctive cabinet art package with black/chrome trim and legs, and exclusive real screened backglass.
  • AC/DC Limited Edition Let There Be Rock (200 units) Same features as the premium but with added shaker motor, an exclusive real screened backglass art, a larger 12" subwoofer and red/yellow trim and legs.
  • X-Men (2012) John Borg (designer)[22]
  • X-Men Limited Edition Wolverine (300 units) Same features as the Pro with these additional features, real screened dedicated backglass, 2 added pop up targets, moving iceman ramp, added spinning disc/magnet. Blue powdercoated trim.
  • X-Men Limited Edition Magneto (250 units) Same features as the Pro with these additional features, real screened dedicated backglass, 2 added pop up targets, moving iceman ramp, added spinning disc/magnet. Red powdercoated trim.
  • Avengers (2012) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Avengers Blue LE (250 units) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Avengers Green Hulk LE (250 units) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Transformers The Pin (2012) (intended for home use) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Avengers The Pin (2013) (intended for home use) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Metallica (2013) (designed by John Borg, art by Dirty Donny)
  • Metallica Premium Hammer smash toy with disappearing ball to under playfield coffin lock, Moving grave marker cross, inline 3-bank drop targets, Ball-eating snake mouth animated, "Sparky" figurine animated on an electric chair.
  • Metallica Master of Puppets LE (500 units) Platinum trim, screened backglass, John Borg's signature under hard coat.[23]
  • Star Trek (2013) Steve Ritchie (designer) First Pro debut with all LED lighting as standard.
  • Star Trek Premium
  • Star Trek LE (799 units)[24]
  • Mustang (2014) John Trudeau (designer)
  • Mustang Premium
  • Mustang LE
  • The Walking Dead (2014) (designed by John Borg)
  • The Walking Dead LE (600 units)
  • The Walking Dead Premium
  • Wrestlemania (2015)
  • Wrestlemania LE
  • Kiss (2015)
  • Game of Thrones (2015)
  • Whoa Nellie! (2015)
  • Spider-Man Home Edition (2016) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Spider-Man Vault Edition (2016) (redesign of the existing Spider-Man with new playfield- and DMD-graphics, and new music and sound effects)
  • Ghostbusters (2016) (based on the first two films)[25]
  • The Pabst Can Crusher (2016) (retheme of Whoa Nellie!)
  • Batman '66 (2016) (based on the Batman television series from 1966[26])
  • Aerosmith (2017)
  • Star Wars (2017)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)
  • Iron Maiden (2018) (first design of Keith Elwin)
  • Supreme (2018) (retheme of Spider-Man Home Edition)(Design by George Gomez)
  • Deadpool (2018) (based on the comics) (Design by George Gomez)
  • The Beatles (2018) (Ka-Pow Pinball collaboration, with only 1,964 machines produced) (Design by George Gomez- evolution of Sea Witch by Mike Kubin.)
  • Primus (2018) (retheme of Whoa Nellie!)
  • The Munsters (2019) (based on 1960s TV series The Munsters)
  • Black Knight: Sword of Rage (2019) (designed by Steve Ritchie as a sequel to Black Knight and Black Knight 2000, which he designed for Williams in the 1980s.[27])
  • Star Wars Pin (2019) (intended for home use) (Design by George Gomez)
  • Jurassic Park (2019)
  • Elvira's House of Horrors (2019)
  • Star Wars Comic Art (2019) (redesign of the existing Star Wars)
  • Stranger Things (2019)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2020)
  • Avengers: Infinity Quest (2020)
  • Heavy Metal (2020) (Based on the popular magazine Heavy Metal)
  • Led Zeppelin (2020)
  • The Mandalorian (2021) (Lead designer Brian Eddy) (Announced May 4, officially revealed May 11.)
  • Godzilla (2021) (lead designer Keith Elwin) (announced September 15th' officially revealed September 17th.)

Arcade games manufactured by Stern[edit]

  • Astro Invader (1980) (programmed by Konami)[28]
  • Berzerk (1980)[28]
  • The End (1980) (programmed by Konami)
  • Scramble (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Super Cobra (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Moon War (1981)
  • Turtles (1981) (programmed by Konami)[28]
  • Strategy X (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Jungler (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Armored Car (1981)
  • Amidar (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Frenzy (1982)[28]
  • Tazz-Mania (1982)
  • Tutankham (1982) (programmed by Konami)
  • Pooyan (1982)[28] (programmed by Konami)
  • Dark Planet (1982) (designed by Erick Erickson and Dan Langlois)
  • Rescue (1982)[28][29]
  • Calipso (1982) (developed by Stern, released by Tago Electronics)
  • Anteater (1982) (developed by Stern, released by Tago Electronics)
  • Mazer Blazer (1982)
  • Lost Tomb (1982)
  • Bagman (Le Bagnard) (1982) (programmed by Valadon Automation)
  • Pop Flamer (1982) (programmed by Jaleco)
  • Star Jacker (1983) (programmed by Sega)
  • Minefield (1983)[28]
  • Cliff Hanger (1983)[28] (laserdisc game using video footage from TMS)
  • Great Guns (1984)
  • Goal To Go (1984) (laserdisc game)
  • Super Bagman (1984)[28] (programmed by Valadon Automation)


  1. ^ a b "Pinball Runs Out of Wizardry". Chicago Tribune.
  2. ^ Davey, Monica (25 April 2008). "For a Pinball Survivor, the Game Isn't Over". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  3. ^ Pinball, Stern. "About". Stern Pinball.
  4. ^ "Cosmic Princess". Pinpedia.
  5. ^ a b c "The Internet Pinball Machine Database".
  6. ^ "Internet Pinball Machine Database: Stern 'Big Game' Images".
  7. ^ Pinball, Stern. "High Roller Casino". Stern Pinball. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  8. ^ Pinball, Stern. "The Lord Of The Rings". Stern Pinball. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  9. ^ Pinball, Stern. "Shrek". Stern Pinball. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  10. ^ Stern Pinball's Official Batman Pinball webpage. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  11. ^ Stern Pinball's Official CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Pinball webpage. Retrieved on 8 November 2008.
  12. ^ Stern Pinball's Official 24 Pinball webpage. Retrieved 22 March 2009
  13. ^ "Enada Coin-op Trade Show 2010". TILT.IT. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  14. ^ Stern's new Avatar game. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  15. ^ Stern's new Avatar Limited game. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  16. ^ "The Rolling Stones". Pinball News. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Tron: Legacy". Pinball News. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  18. ^ "TRON Limited Edition". Pinball News. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Transformers Pinball Coming Soon". Pinball News. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Transformers". Pinball News. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Pinball News – First and Free".
  22. ^ "".
  23. ^ "Metallica Master of Puppets LE". Stern. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  24. ^ "".
  25. ^ Porges, Seth (19 April 2016). "What You Need To Know About The New 'Ghostbusters' Pinball Machine". Forbes. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  26. ^ "Stern is Making a Batman '66 Pinball Machine Starring Adam West". 30 August 2016.
  27. ^ Pinball, Stern. "Black Knight: Sword of Rage". Stern Pinball.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Stern Electronics – coin-operated machines".
  29. ^ Sharpe, Roger C. (June 1983). "Insert Coin Here". Electronic Games. p. 92. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

External links[edit]