Timeline of arcade video game history

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Though not a complete history, herein is a list of what many would consider most of the "game" changers that made arcade experiences so powerful and nostalgic. (The list cuts off around the early 2000s, missing another 10+ years of games from the dwindling era of arcade popularity; though some still exist in specific locales.)

Early history (1971–1977)[edit]

  • Atari, Inc. launches Pong, the first commercially successful video game. It is also the first arcade sports video game.

Golden age (1978–1986)[edit]

  • Williams Electronics releases Joust.
  • Namco releases Pole Position, one of the most popular racing games of all time.[21] This is also Namco's first game to feature a 16-bit CPU making it the first 16-bit video game.
  • Bally Midway releases Journey, the first game with digitized sprites.
  • Astron Belt, the first laserdisc video game, is released by Sega.
  • Dragon's Lair, the first video game to use cel-animated video instead of computer-generated graphics was advertised as the first truly 3D video game and as the meeting point of video games and animated films.
  • Atari brings Star Wars to the arcades in the form of a 3D vector graphics simulation of the movie's attack on the Death Star sequence and featuring digitized samples of voices from the movie.
  • Nintendo releases “Mario Bros.
  • Taito releases Bubble Bobble.
  • Sega releases Out Run.
  • Chiller by Exidy is released and is an early example of blood and gore.[26]
  • Top Gunner by Exidy is released and is the last commercial arcade video game to use vector-based(wireframe) graphics.
  • Turbo Kourier is released by the Vivid Group and is the first coin-operated Virtual Reality arcade video game to use 3D Polygon Graphics.[27][28]

Post-golden age (1987–present)[edit]

  • Exterminator by Gottlieb is released and is the first video game to use fully digitized graphics in every element of the game. This was Gottlieb's last video game.
  • Hard Drivin', by Atari Games is released and is the second arcade driving game to have 3D polygonal graphics.
  • S.T.U.N. Runner is released by Atari Games and is known for early use of high-speed 3-D Polygonal Graphics.
  • Pit-Fighter is released by Atari Games and is the first-ever fighting game to use fully digitized graphics. Released two years before Midway's Mortal Kombat.
  • Galaxian³ is released by Namco as a video game Theme Park Attraction and is the first to feature 8-players. This game is a sequel to the Galaxian series and is known for combining pre-laserdisc background images and 3D Polygonal graphics. It was later released as an arcade cabinet to the public in 1994.
  • NAM-1975 is released by SNK and is the first game running on a Neo Geo hardware and became the standardized arcade platform throughout the 90s to the early 2000s. Many 2D fighting games like Fatal Fury, World Heroes, and Samurai Showdown ran on this hardware and was very popular in the arcades for its time.
  • Mortal Kombat II is released, featuring high quality digitized graphics, and the most advanced sound system in arcades at the time, the DCS sound system which allowed for MP3 style compression to all sounds.
  • Sega releases Virtua Fighter, the first 3D fighting game.
  • Killer Instinct is released, the first arcade game with a hard disk, up to that point the game with the highest quality graphics pre-rendered by a rendering program, featuring to this day the highest quality use of the movie background technique.
  • Namco releases Tekken, another fighting game.
  • SNK releases Metal Slug, a run and gun game widely known for its sense of humor, fluid hand-drawn animation, and fast-paced two-player action.
  • Konami releases Dance Dance Revolution, an arcade game with four arrow pads that the players used to "dance." This game would create many sequels and spin-offs.
  • Gauntlet Legends is released by Atari Games and it is the first game in the Gauntlet series to be produced in 3D and is the last Gauntlet game released by Atari Games.
  • Rush 2049 is released, the last arcade game to bear the Atari Games logo. Atari Games in Milpitas is renamed Midway Games West, and closes its coin-op product development division.
  • Hydro Thunder is released by Midway Games. It is a 3D speedboat racing game and was one of the first to run on QuickSilver II hardware, a windows-based hardware setup that was less expensive to use. The game was one of Midway Games most successful arcade games to date.
  • Derby Owners Club which was the first large-scale satellite arcade machine with smartcards, which have become a staple in Japanese game centers since.
  • Namco releases Tekken 4, the first talking game to feature almost all characters talking to one another.
  • Sega releases Virtua Fighter 4, the first arcade game with online features in Japan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bill Loguidice & Matt Barton (2009), Vintage games: an insider look at the history of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the most influential games of all time, p. 197, Focal Press, ISBN 0-240-81146-1
  2. ^ Speed Race at the Killer List of Videogames
  3. ^ Chris Kohler (2005), Power-up: how Japanese video games gave the world an extra life, BradyGames, p. 19, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1, retrieved 2011-03-27
  4. ^ Torchinsky, Jason (2012). "Meet The Doctor-Engineer Who Basically Invented The Modern Racing Game". Jalopnik. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  5. ^ "8bitrocket.com: Blog Display Page". 2007-10-13. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  6. ^ Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), The video game explosion: a history from PONG to PlayStation and beyond, p. 39, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 0-313-33868-X
  7. ^ Fonz at the Killer List of Videogames
  8. ^ "20 Years of Street Fighter: The origins of the world's greatest fight…". archive.is. 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  9. ^ Kocurek, Carly A. (2012). "The Agony and the Exidy: A History of Video Game Violence and the Legacy of Death Race". Game Studies. ISSN 1604-7982.
  10. ^ "Speed Race Twin". arcade-museum.com. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  11. ^ Chris Kohler (2005), Power-up: how Japanese video games gave the world an extra life, BradyGames, p. 18, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1, retrieved 2011-03-27
  12. ^ "Essential 50: Space Invaders". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  13. ^ Edwards, Benj. "Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Space Invaders". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
  14. ^ "Mobile Games". Atari. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  15. ^ Galaxian at the Killer List of Videogames
  16. ^ The Essential 50 - Pac-Man, 1UP
  17. ^ Playing With Power: Great Ideas That Have Changed Gaming Forever, 1UP
  18. ^ "Gaming's most important evolutions". Gamesrader. October 9, 2010.
  19. ^ "Tempest (Atari 1980)". Andy's Arcade. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  20. ^ Game Genres: Shmups, Professor Jim Whitehead, January 29, 2007, Accessed June 17, 2008
  21. ^ "pole position [cockpit model] [coin-op] arcade video game, namco, ltd. (1982)". Arcade-history.com. 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  22. ^ "Tehkan World Cup - Videogame by Tehkan". Arcade-museum.com. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  23. ^ "Air Race pcb by Atari, Inc. (1985)".
  24. ^ ScottithGames (22 December 2011). "Atari 1985 Air Race unreleased arcade game" – via YouTube.
  25. ^ Encyclopedia of Video Games: M-Z. ABC-CLIO. 1 January 2012. ISBN 9780313379369 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ nathaaan90 (2010-05-11). "15 Firsts In Video Game History". Listverse. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  27. ^ "Mandala Turbo Kourier Module". Archived from the original on March 29, 2017.
  28. ^ "Turbo Kourier pcb by Vivid Group (1986)".

External links[edit]