Difference between revisions of "Cinematronics"

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'''Cinematronics''' was a game company that specialized in vector-scan graphics arcade games. Their titles include Armor Attack, Star Castle, Rip Off, Tail Gunner, Space Wars, Star Hawk, and Cosmic Chasm (which was actually a port of a Vectrex game). They teamed up with Don Bluth and Rick Dyer Industries and released Dragon's Lair and Space Ace into the arcades in the early 1980s.
{{Infobox Defunct Company
 
 
[[Category:Companies]]
| company_name = Cinematronics Incorporated
 
| company_logo = [[Image:Cinematronics Inc logo.jpg|250px|center|Cinematronics Logo]] |
 
| fate = [[Purchasing|Purchased]] by [[Tradewest]] and renamed Leland Corp. <!--Suggestions: bankrupt, merged etc.-->
 
| successor = Leland Corp.
 
| foundation = 1975
 
| defunct = 1987 <!--date it went bankrupt/merged etc.-->
 
| location = [[El Cajon, California|El Cajon]], [[California]]
 
| industry = [[computer and video game industry]] <!--types of products or services offered-->
 
| key_people = Jim Pearce: co-founder; Tom "Papa" Stroud; Larry Rosenthal;
 
| products = ''[[Space Wars]]'', ''[[Dragon's Lair]]'' |<!--some of company's notable products-->
 
| num_employees = <!--peak number of employees-->
 
| parent = <!--former parent companies, if any-->
 
| subsid =
 
}}
 
'''Cinematronics Incorporated''' was a pioneering [[arcade game]] [[video game developer|developer]] that had its heyday in the era of [[vector graphics|vector display]] games. While other companies released games based on [[raster graphics|raster display]]s, early in their history, Cinematronics and [[Atari]] released vector-display games, which offered a distinctive look and a greater graphic capability (at the time), at the cost of being only (initially) black and white.
 
 
== Meager beginnings ==
 
Cinematronics Inc. was founded in 1975 by Jim Pearce, Dennis Parte and Gary Garrison in El Cajon, California, although early on Parte and Garrison sold their shares to Tom "Papa" Stroud. Cinematronics' first games, a ''[[Pong]]'' clone, a ''Flipper Ball'' copy and their first original game design, ''Embargo'', were released in 1975, 1976, and 1977, were not particularly notable. The company really began to prosper after the ''[[Space Wars]]'' game came into production about a year later.
 
 
== Cinematronics' first success ==
 
Larry Rosenthal, a student of [[MIT]], had written his master's [[thesis]] on ''[[Spacewar!]]'' and wanted to create a version of the computer game that could be placed in [[Video arcade|arcades]]. Rosenthal had created a [[Central processing unit|processor]] that was powerful enough to run a proper version of ''Spacewar!'' and yet inexpensive to produce. He named his [[Transistor-transistor logic|TTL]]-based technology "Vectorbeam". After building a prototype, he shopped the machine around to various game companies, looking for a distributor. Rosenthal demanded a 50/50 share of the profits, a figure that caused nearly all companies to pass on the deal.
 
 
At this same time Cinematronics was looking for their next game. The timing was perfect for the two: Cinematronics was running out of funds and looking for any deal to land a new game and Rosenthal was selling a game but insisted on a ridiculously high profit share. The deal was made and the game was released as ''[[Space Wars]]''.
 
 
''Space Wars'' was the first arcade game to utilize black & white [[vector graphics]], which enabled it to display sharp, crisp images. ''Space Wars'' had graphics which were far more detailed than the [[raster graphics|raster]] displays of the time. Cinematronics shipped over 30,000 units and was a top seller in 1978.
 
 
Rosenthal, feeling that he was still not receiving enough money for his innovations, left Cinematronics and formed [[Vectorbeam]]. When he attempted to take his "Vectorbeam" technology with him, Pierce and Stroud sued. The men came to an agreement outside of court with Rosenthal selling his company and technology to Cinematronics.
 
 
== Vector games ==
 
With the "Vectorbeam" board under their control, Cinematronics released a series of vector graphic arcade games including ''[[Starhawk (arcade game)|Starhawk]]'', ''[[Warrior (arcade game)|Warrior]]'' the first one-on-one fighting game, ''[[Sundance (arcade game)|Sundance]]'' and ''[[TailGunner (arcade game)|TailGunner]]''.
 
 
Cinematronics experimented with color overlays on some of their games. In ''[[Star Castle]]'', the overlay gave color to several elements of the game with fixed positions. In ''[[Armor Attack]]'', the overlay was itself a part of the game: the overlay was a top-down view of a small set of city streets, and the player drove a [[jeep]] through the streets fighting [[tank]]s and [[helicopter]]s.
 
 
Cinematronics created ''[[Cosmic Chasm]]'', a color vector game. Other games were developed based on the same hardware system (based on [[Motorola 68000|Motorola's 68000]] chip) but were never released, including a [[3D graphics|3D]] color vector game.
 
 
== Raster, laserdisc games and beyond ==
 
About 1982, Cinematronics started releasing games which used [[raster graphics|raster display]], such as ''[[Naughty Boy]]'' and "[[Zzyzzyxx]]". During this time Cinematronics filed for [[Chapter 11]] bankruptcy protection.
 
 
In 1983 Cinematronics released ''[[Dragon's Lair]],'' one of the first [[laserdisc]]-based arcade games. In order to finish the project they partnered with Advanced Microcomputer Systems (later renamed [[RDI Video Systems]]), who later tried to sell a home version of the laser-disc machine. While RDI's home console, the [[Halcyon (console)|Halcyon]], was a failure, the Dragon's Lair arcade was a huge success. Cinematronics followed it up with the similar [[sci-fi]]-themed laserdisc game, ''[[Space Ace]]''.
 
In about 1983 some prototype animation material for a ''Dragon's Lair'' sequel was produced, but due to the lack of an agreement between Cinematronics and the animator, [[Don Bluth]], this material sat unused for years, eventually becoming part of the ''[[Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp]]'' game in the 1990s.
 
 
About 1984, Cinematronics released ''[[Express Delivery]]'' and other raster games based on a new hardware platform called the ''[[Cinemat System]]'', which was designed to be reusable with replaceable software, control panels, and cabinet artwork.
 
 
About 1987, Cinematronics was acquired by [[Tradewest]] and renamed the [[Leland Corporation]] and continued to make arcade and PC game software. Tradewest was bought out by [[WMS Industries Inc.|WMS]] in 1991 to become their console division.
 
 
[[Cinematronics, LLC]], a completely separate entity with no connection to the original arcade game creator, was founded in 1994 and primarily developed games for Windows and Macintosh systems.
 
 
== Games ==
 
*''[[Alley Master]]'' (1988)
 
*''[[Armor Attack]]'' (1980)
 
*''[[Baseball The Season II]]'' (1987)
 
*''[[Boxing Bugs]]'' (1981)
 
*''Brix'' (1983)
 
*''[[Cerberus (arcade game)|Cerberus]]'' (1985)
 
*''[[Cosmic Chasm]]'' (1983)
 
*''[[Danger Zone (arcade game)|Danger Zone]]'' (1986)
 
*''[[Double Play: Super Baseball Home Run Derby]]'' (1987)
 
*''[[Dragon's Lair]]'' (1983)
 
*''[[Embargo (arcade game)|Embargo]]'' (1977)
 
*''[[Express Delivery]]'' (1984)
 
*''[[Flipper Ball]]'' (1976)
 
*''[[Freeze (arcade game)|Freeze]]'' (1982)
 
*''[[Hovercraft (arcade game)|Hovercraft]]'' (1983)
 
*''[[Jack the Giant Killer (arcade game)|Jack the Giantkiller]]'' (1982)
 
*''[[Mayhem 2002]]'' (1985)
 
*''[[Naughty Boy]]'' (1982)
 
*''[[Power Play (game)|Power Play]]'' (1985)
 
*''[[Redline Racer]]'' (1986)
 
*''[[Rip Off (arcade game)|Rip Off]]'' (1980) A cocktail version was also manufactured under license by [[Centuri]]
 
*''[[Solar Quest (video game)]]'' (1981)
 
*''[[Space Ace]]'' (1984)
 
*''[[Space Wars]]'' (1977)
 
*''[[Star Castle]]'' (1980)
 
*''[[Starhawk (arcade game)|Starhawk]]'' (1977)
 
*''[[Sundance (arcade game)|Sundance]]'' (1979)
 
*''[[Tail Gunner]]'' (1979)
 
*''Tailgunner II'' 1980 This was a [[Cockpit (aviation)|cockpit]] version was otherwise the same as the original ''Tailgunner''. It was made under license by [[Exidy]].
 
*''[[Warrior (arcade game)|Warrior]]
 
*''[[War of the Worlds (arcade game)|War of the Worlds]]'' (1982)
 
*''[[World Series - The Season]]'' (1985)
 
*''[[World Series Baseball]]'' (1984)
 
*''[[Zzyzzyxx]]'' (1982)
 
 
== Sources ==
 
*Kent, Steven L., ''The Ultimate History of Video Games'', (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1994) ISBN 0-7615-3643-4
 
*[http://www.dadgum.com/giantlist/archive/cinematronics.html Tim Skelly's History of Cinematronics and Vectorbeam] Retrieved Jul. 8, 2005.
 
 
== External links ==
 
* [http://www.dragons-lair-project.com/ The Dragon's Lair Project] Details the history of Laser Disc games.
 
* [http://www.klov.com/manuf_detail.php?manuf_id=258 Cinemtronics entry] on the [[Killer List of Videogames|KLOV]]
 
* [http://www.thedoteaters.com/p2_stage1.php The Dot Eaters entry] on the history of Cinematronics and the development of early games such as Space Wars
 
* [http://www.dadgum.com/giantlist/archive/cinematronics.html] on the History of Cinematronics and Vectorbeam by Tim Skelly
 
* [http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=2547&image=1] brochure for Embargo game
 
{{Video game companies of the United States}}
 
[[Category:Cinematronics games| ]]
 
[[Category:Companies based in San Diego County, California]]
 
[[Category:Companies established in 1975]]
 
[[Category:Defunct companies based in California]]
 
[[Category:Defunct video game companies]]
 
[[Category:Video game companies of the United States]]
 
[[Category:Video game developers]]
 
[[Category:Companies disestablished in 1987]]
 
 
[[de:Cinematronics]]
 
[[fr:Cinematronics]]
 
[[it:Cinematronics]]
 

Latest revision as of 17:33, 12 June 2011

Cinematronics was a game company that specialized in vector-scan graphics arcade games. Their titles include Armor Attack, Star Castle, Rip Off, Tail Gunner, Space Wars, Star Hawk, and Cosmic Chasm (which was actually a port of a Vectrex game). They teamed up with Don Bluth and Rick Dyer Industries and released Dragon's Lair and Space Ace into the arcades in the early 1980s.