A Time Capsule For Six


If you are passionate about collecting arcade games, there is constantly a thought in the back of your mind of being the first to find an abandoned warehouse stuffed with classic arcade games or that HUO game that has been left untouched for all these years with your name on it.  After reading about unbelievable 'warehouse raids' and Computer Space games being stuffed in the second floor of a rickety old barn you almost think these stories are too good to be true.  The minute you see pictures of undeniable proof you then want to be part of the event in the worst way.  However, you quickly realize how rare
a scenario like this is to occur to an actual collector and as we move into 2009 the number of these occurrences has to be diminishing quite quickly.  While I don't have anything to share exactly along the lines of a warehouse raid I do have a pretty amazing experience in purchasing some arcade games this past year.  I had a mini bulk buy of near perfect games I was lucky enough to stumble across.
 
The Story

Six arcade games were purchased directly from the manufacturers in 1982 for a small restaurant in Michigan.  The owners thought they needed to be a part of the recent arcade boom and figured it would be a great way to draw a younger crowd into their new restaurant.  They purchased the following games:  Pac-Man, Berzerk, Defender, Asteroids Deluxe, Rally-X and Gorf.  While the owners did not know anything in great detail about the games except the expensive purchase price they applied the same pride of ownership to the games as they did the operation of their restaurant.  The restaurant was non-smoking (amazing when you consider it was 1982), the games were dusted down each night, window shades were drawn when sunlight came in to protect them from fading and customers who mistreated the games were quickly reprimanded.  The  games were numbered 1 through 6 to track their earnings and the original keys were kept behind the store counter.  
 
Unfortunately, the story of the games takes a quick detour in 1983 when the restaurant was closed and other business opportunities were pursued.  The games were left, where they stood for nearly 15 years, as the restaurant remained locked up tight.  In 1998 the games were moved to a climate controlled storage area in the back of another facility the restaurant owners had and there they sat until 2008 when I stumbled upon them.
 
The most interesting part of the story is the original restaurant manager, the owner's daughter, now owned them and put
the complete story in writing for me of how the games came to be.  Interesting enough the backs of the games were only opened "The day they were plugged in and the day the were unplugged'.  There was no maintenance performed on them in their short service careers and when asked if they had paperwork and keys I was met with the answer "Everything that came with the games has never been removed from the inside and the only thing ever taken out was  the coin box to empty the quarters."  She is still trying to find the actual purchase receipts which would be an incredible artifact to keep attached to these games.   
 
Present Time

Fast forward to today.  I waited the better part of a year after purchasing the games to teach myself arcade game repair which has been about a two year journey for me.  As I honed my skills I figured I owed these games a knowledgeable hand before diving into getting them running to their former glory.  Being a collector you quickly realize the state of a game that has been on route or has seen years of game play.  Scratches on the back from a game being laid down, the ground plug being snipped, the coin boxes and original keys missing, replacement light bulbs, replaced components, on and on.

Gorf was the third game I attempted to restore. Although the years of storage preserved the game in excellent physical condition many functional problems were evident.  After repairing the monitor because of flashing/blinking issue (bad film capacitor) and repairing what seemed like a hundred of cracked solder joints I was able to get the game turned on.  However, the game would not play and multiple graphical errors appeared on the screen.  Three bad RAM chips were found thus improving the picture and finally two bad chips on the pattern board were replaced making the Gorf game appear as it should.  Finally, a blown capacitor on the amp board was replaced and the game sounds were crystal clear!  The game has the original optical joystick which functions perfectly!  The game has the original manual, warranty card and other paperwork.  The inspection tags are all still in place and an original set of keys was found in the coin box.  The inside of the game is immaculate.  The original power cord still has the ground prong.  A tag applied by the original owner, which is still in place, shows that this was game #3.  I guess I can go on and on about this game but I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
 
Most of the games have around 3,000-5,000 plays with Gorf having slightly over 7,000 plays.  While these games are not true HUO games or by any means one of a kind models, I still feel very privileged to have been part of such a great adventure and look forward to bringing each and every one back to life.
 
If anyone needs any details on some very original games with all the factory components still in place....don't hesitate to drop me a line and I would be happy to provide detailed pictures.  If in some way more accurate restorations can be portrayed out there in the arcade world that would bring a smile to my face.
 
Stay tuned for more details on each of the games as they are readied for action at Tranquility Base Arcade!

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