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THE HISTORY OF CINEMATRONICS AND A DESCRIPTION OF THEIR VECTOR GAMES
--------------------------------------------------------------------

COPYRIGHT 1994, 1995

REVISION NUMBER: 2.0
REVISION DATE: 23 December 1994

REVISION HISTORY: 1.0 (02/11/92 - First attempt at listing and ordering 
                                  all Cinematronics games.)
REVISION HISTORY: 2.0 (12/23/94 - Rearranged sections, added new sections
                                  for Barrier, Speed Freak, Boxing Bugs,
                                  Cosmic Chasm and added lots of details in
                                  the TECH sections.  Rewrote MISC section.)

CREATED BY: Steve Ozdemir

THANX TO: David Hanes, Bill Esquivel, John Grigsby and Patti Ozdemir

STANDARD DISCLAIMER:
--------------------

The author hereby grant permission to reproduce and distribute
this document for personal use, subject to the condition that the
document (along with any copyright and disclaimer notices) is not
modified in any way.  The opinions expressed within this document
are those of the author only and not necessarily those of the
author's employer(s).  This document is provided for informational
purposes only.  Although the author have made every effort to
provide accurate information, they cannot guarantee the accuracy
or usefulness of any of the information contained herein due to
the complexity of the issues involved.  The author take no
responsibility for anything arising as a result of anyone using
the information provided in this document, and the reader hereby
absolves the author of any and all liability arising from any
activities resulting from the use of any information contained
herein.


INTRODUCTION
------------
Many thanks to the other serious collectors who over the years have helped me
piece this together and fill in the blanks!!  Especially David Hanes, who's
interview with Tim Skelly provided LOTS of information (and probably raised
even more questions to be answered)!!!  I've included this interview at
the bottom in the miscellaneous section.  I hope you enjoy reading this,
and do send some email to me if you'd like to see more articles like this!!!
(If you are reading through this for recreation, you may want to skip the
sections marked TECH NOTE....while full of details I could see how they'd
be boring to read.)

Writing the history of Cinematronics/Vectorbeam has felt like writing an
obituary (probably because Cinematronics stopped making vector games back in
1983, or possibly because Cinematronics went out of business back in 1986).
However, in my several years of reading r.g.v.a, I've never seen anyone
collect into one article all the disjointed facts about Cinematronics
presented in this group.  So here's the history of Cinematronics/Vectorbeam
with plenty of technical facts intersperced throughout the article...if you
want to do conversions of your Cinematronics games, this article will be of
particular interest to you!! Also, since I first wrote this document, I've
written another document detailing how to convert Rip Off or Star Castle
to play both games with a flick of a switch, or to convert Armor Attack to
play all the later Cinematronics games, Rip Off, Star Castle, Armor Attack
and Solar Quest, again with the flick of a single switch!!

Below I cover all of the Cinematronics black and white vector games in 
chronological order: Space Wars and Speed Freak, Barrier and Star Hawk,
Warriors and Sundance, Tail Gunner and Tail Gunner II, Rip Off and Star
Castle, and the final pairing Armor Attack and Solar Quest.  I've added
another pairing for the Cinematronics color XYs, Boxing Bugs ane Cosmic
Chasm, at the very end just in case someone is interested in them.  War of
the Worlds was Cinematronics conversion kit for Star Castle though when the
second revision of this document was being written not one of the collectors
had this game or any of its hardware.  Also, just before the second
revision of this document was done, a set of standard Cinematronics
hardware was found that had been licensed to Rockola.  KLOV lists only
one vector game for Rockola called Rocket Racer, however the neither the KLOV
description nor Tim Skelly's description of Rocket Racer matches the gameplay
of the board set that was found.  The sound board for Rocket Racer game was
quite unique and is discussed later in this document.

Cinematronics also made other raster games like Jack the Giant Killer,
Cerberus, Danger Zone, several sports oriented games and the popular
Dragon's Lair/Space Ace laser disc games.  Given the popularity of the laser
disc games, they merit their own document and aren't covered here.  And
unfortunately, no one has volunteered their time to write up a document
about Cinematronics laser disc games or laser disc games in general.

Folklore involving Vectorbeam/Cinematronics says that the hardware for Space
Wars was created in a garage by Larry Rosenthal who wanted to play this game
that he'd seen on MIT's PDP-11s at his house!  The Vectorbeam/Cinematronics
folks stopped by and offered to license the hardware....and from that point
they went on to make almost a dozen games on that hardware platform! (Actually,
things weren't that simple....what I've heard was that Vectorbeam was formed
when some of the Cinematronics folks had a falling out. Later the two companies
join back together.)

In fact, it's quite amazing that the games made five years after Space Wars
like Armor Attack and Solar Quest were still using the bit slice technology
is pretty amazing!  Microprocessors had been in use for several years at that
point!!  If you think about it, things make sense though....if you were trying
to make Space Wars in a garage back in 1975 (two years would be enough time
to develop the first prototype that Vectorbeam/Cinematronics discovered and
produced in 1977) you might not be able to afford the new fangled
microprocessor of the time!!  Naturally, you'd use a bit-sliced architecture
that used 74 series chips that were widely available and cheap enough.  And
as we said above, Cinematronics went on to make almost a dozen games on that
architecture without significantly changing it.  I wonder just how much revenue
was generated by that one person's hardware design....20 million?  50 million??



TECH NOTE: All the BW vector games used similar hardware. So for the most
part, all the Cinematronics boards are interchangeable, except for the
control panel and the sound boards which have POTS on vs. off the board!!
The actual Cinematronics boards do have wiring modifications (for an unused
gate) for boards using 2716s vs. 2732s, but this only involves adding wires
to use an extra gate for addressing the larger address space in a 2732.

Do not confuse this wiring modification with the strap option near the
connectors on the mother board or the JMI interrupt.  On Cinematronics mother
boards there is a small wire (1/4 of an inch) with "NORM" and "VAR" printed
nearby....this tells the mother board if the Cinematronics monitor has the
optional VARiable intensity daughter board used in Solar Quest.  While
Sundance has been rumored to use the variable intensity option, Vectorbeam
boards do not have this convenient NORM/VAR option and instead alot of
wiring modification were used.  The JMI interrupt is used in for conditional
jumps and was present on all boards except Space Wars.  You'll see every
board having this wire modification, though on the more modern boards the
wire modification is only a 1/4 of an inch in length and located about two
inches below the intensity strap option between the chips at location G2, H2,
G4 and H4.  For early Cinematronics boards and all Vectorbeam boards, the
strap option is a wiring modification that originates from the same place
but goes across the width of the board between the [A-T]2 and [A-T]4 rows
and finally terminates on the back side of the board near T2.  Neither of the
modifications affect the interfaces between the boards and the cabinet
so you can use a single cabinet to test any Cinematronics board set,
but you can't play the game because the control panel is wired only for
that one particular game.  You can see the game come up on the monitor
and make the appropriate noises!!

(NOTE: Just before the second revision of this document, one exception to the
above paragraph is that the Tail Gunner cabinet uses the monitor's DAC to
translate the analog input from the joystick.  As such, you can't necessarily
put other games in a Tail Gunner cabinet.  A Rev K Star Castle did not work in
a Tail Gunner cabinet.  Keep in mind that while the Tail Gunner cabinet is not
very useful for testing boards, a Tail Gunner board set will come up in any
other cabinet though you won't be able to play the game since you don't have
the joysticks piped through the DAC.)

A wordy description of physical appearance of the board set follows this
diagram:

	NOTE:   The board set should be positioned like this on a metal
	plate, though I've seen the metal plate rotated 180 degrees in the
	cabinet meaning TOP/BOTTOM and LEFT/RIGHT would have to be swapped.



                ------------------------------------
                |ribbon conn->====      X          |
                |power connector(MOLEX)-^          |
                |                          ^       |
                |      SOUND BOARD        TOP      |
                |                    <-LEFT RIGHT->|
                |                        BOTTOM    |
                |                          V       |
                ------------------------------------


        ------------------------------------------------------------
        |            =======    ====    =======             XXX    |
        |            ^             ^          ^             XXX    |
        |            |             |          |              ^     |
        |            |             |          |              |     |
        |            |             |          |              |     |
        |            |             |          |              |     |
        |         monitor     sound board  control panel   power   |
        |         connector   connector    connector     connector |
        |         (ribbon)    (ribbon)     (ribbon)       (MOLEX)  |
        |  __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __                                 |
        |  | V | | V | | V | | V |                                 |
        |  |   | |   | |   | |   |                                 |
        |  |U7 | |T7 | |R7 | |P7 |                                 |
        |  |   | |   | |   | |   |                                 |
        |  |___| |___| |___| |___|                                 |
        |    ^    ^    ^     ^                           ^         |
        |    |    |2716|     |                           |         |
        |    |____EPROMs_____|                          TOP        |
        |                          MOTHER BOARD    <-LEFT RIGHT->  |
        |                                              BOTTOM      |
        |                                                |         |
        |                                                V         |
        |  NOTE: There must be a hundred standard                  |
        |  TTL chips on this board that aren't shown.              |
        ------------------------------------------------------------


The board set for any of the Cinematronics games consists of two boards.
A mother board that is about 12 inches by 16 inches and had three ribbon
cable connectors to one side plus a molex connector to supply power and
coin door on the corner of the mother board sharing a side with the other
three connectors.  (The mother board is composed of purely 7400 series
chips that make up the bit sliced architecture, ALU chips and either
masked ROMs used mainly in pre-Rip Off games or EPROMs for Rip Off
and later games.)  While all mother boards are interchangeable at
the connector level (if VAR/NORM is set to NORM), Cinematronics mother
boards do have a revision number (B, H or K).  Vectorbeam mother boards
do not have any revision number.  And a sound board that is about
6 inches by 8 inches (though later games like Armor Attack and Solar Quest
have much larger sound boards) and has a single connector to one side plus
a molex connector to supply power and speakers.  Both the sound board and the
mother board are mounted on a metal plate and not stacked.  A second ribbon
cable connector on the sound boards connects to the center ribbon cable
connector of the three ribbon cable connectors on the mother board.  The
sound boards for all the Cinematronics BW vector games were composed of
discrete components...a practice Cinematronics continued long after other
manufacturers converted to using digital gone generators.  By sticking with
analog, Cinematronics was able to make the "droning" sounds like Rip Off
background noise!

The other two connectors on the mother board go to the control panel and the
BW vector monitor (where the signals going to the monitor are digital, not
analog).  The mother board has room for four sockets that hold EPROMS or
masked ROMs, though in the both the cases of Tail Gunner and Warrior the
games were designed to work with a daughter board with over a dozen 2708
EPROMS plus power regulators to generate the strange voltages from the +25v
and -25v from the sound board.  Another connector from this daughter board
would go into one of the sockets of the mother board! For many of the earlier
games, only two of the four sockets/pads were filled, and two traces (next to
a wider power trace) running along the top (next to the EPROM's notch) of the
EPROMs and ALUs just above the J6 chip would be connected together to allow
four EPROMs (in Rev H and Rev K Cinematronics mother boards these traces
are actually joined).  In many cases the masked ROMs were soldered directly
into the board (bypassing the need for a socket).  The dipswitches for most
of the Cinematronics boards serve the same purpose except for Rip Off's
diagnostic mode, which is set to OFF (instead of ON) for normal play.



SPACE WARS (Vect/Rev B) and SPEED FREAK (Vect)
----------------------------------------------

Space Wars was a two player game developed at MIT, where there was no
computer opponent so you couldn't play by yourself.  Space Wars was quite
novel for the time, in that you could program the type of game you were going
to play using a numerical keypad that consisted of a two row, five column
matrix of keyboard buttons.  The standard five button controls (right, left,
thrust, fire and hyperspace) were used for each player.  Once you selected
the type of game (gravity, reverse gravity, strong gravity, weak gravity,
speed of ships, wrap around universe and/or invisible sun), the two players
would fight for a fixed amount of time with the person making the most kills
within the time limit winning.  Both fuel and shots were limited, and a
shortage of either generally meant you were dead! Note though, that hitting the
other player could result in the player only being injured, and still able to
fight.  A few last bits of information about Space Wars....one player looked
like the Enterprise, another player looked like the Asteroids ship, and lastly
there was a reset button that could be hit to restart the battle with the
players in their original starting position (scores were preserved).

(AUTHORS NOTE:  My favorite part of Space Wars is that with very strong
reverse gravity player's shots are bent as the shots are repelled away
from the sun.  Nothing is more satisfying that to take a shot at the sun,
see the bullet deviate wildly from its straight and narrow path and finally
hit your opponent!  Makes it look like you really know what you are doing
...however, in rare cases I've also seen shots that are approaching the sun
dead on be repelled straight back at the shooter.  This can be quite
embarrassing if you manage to kill yourself!!)

Speed Freak is a Vectorbeam game made in 1977, and was certainly beyond its
time.  According to the interview with Tim Skelly (included below in the
miscellaneous section), Speed Freak was created by Larry Rosenthal after Space
Wars.  Basically the game was a vector Night Driver with more stuff. The road
would curved more than once on the screen producing S curves that had to be
navigated! Light poles, stick figures, random stuff the side of the road,
and occasionally oncoming traffic made the gameplay rather difficult.
Controls were a steering wheel, 4-speed shifter, and accelerator (and maybe
brake).  To date no one has seen the board set....all we have is a vague
collective memory of the complete game.

Vectorbeam was created back in 1976 in the Bay area and Space Wars was their
first game.  This was back when of the most complex games were Pong and Space
Invaders!  Later Cinematronics located near San Diego also released Space Wars
in a larger cabinet that most people remember because their production run was
long.  This cabinet was so large, that you could easily fit the huge modern
day 33" monitors if it weren't for the tube's neck!  Because both companies
released the same game and Cinematronics had such a long production run,
Space Wars is not the rarest game.  However, the size of the cabinet (which
encouraged operators to throw out the big cabinet or convert it) and
the general popularity of the game means that the few Space Wars (mainly
the Cinematronics version) that do appear are snapped up by collectors!

As to why both Vectorbeam and Cinematronics both released the same game,
Space Wars was considered public domain software, and as such couldn't be
copyrighted to prevent the other company from making it.  Ultimately, the
two companies merged making the point moot, but it is notable that no other
game was produced by both companies.



TECH NOTE:  The Space Wars hardware consists of two masked ROMS that reside
on the standard Rev B Cinematronics mother board.  (The occasional Space
Wars board has been found using the Vectorbeam mother board, which don't
have revision numbers.) Since there is room for four masked ROMS/EPROMS,
two of the pads are completely empty (no sockets).  Most Space Wars boards
have the masked ROMS soldered in, and no wire modifications exist on any
of the boards.  All other Cinematronics and Vectorbeam games require the JMI
wiring modification.  The sound board is rather simple.  The markings on the
masked ROMS are as follows (note that the markings from three different sets
of Space Wars boards are below....their are only two masked ROMS per board):

BOARD SET #1: SPACE WARS C1977                 SPACE WARS C1977
               'S'  7825 2147       and         'S' 7823 2148

BOARD SET #2: 'S'    8204                      'S' 7818
                 C28277M            and            2148
                   2147                         SPACE WARS
                                               COPYRIGHT 1977

BOARD SET #3: 'S'     7825E<-----?E?           'S' 7819D
                 C28277M            and          C28276M
                   2147                            2148
                   ^---this one chip
                       in set #3 was
                       in a socket

Just as the second revision of this document was being written, a single
broken set of Vectorbeam board were found.  After numerous discussions
with the person, my only guess was that they had Speed Freak boards,
however we were in the midst of determining what the mystery board set was.
Speed Freak boards may be identifiable by the sound board, which in
addition to the more typical connectors also had an additional six
pin Molex connector that might have connected the pots in the steering
wheel to the DACs in the monitor so the mother board could get digital
outputs from the controls (similar to Tail Gunner's joystick pots being
routed through the monitor's DACs).  Also, instead of a control panel
PCB used in later games like Rip Off, the control panel's ribbon cable
terminates on the sound board and an additional mini-molex 24 pin connector
went from the sound board to the actual controls/monitor.  Again, let me
emphasize that this is all conjecture, since the boards didn't work and
we can't be sure they were from a Speed Freak.



BARRIER (Vect) and STAR HAWK (Rev B)
------------------------------------

A couple of months before the second revision of this document, a new game
surfaced called Barrier.  The game was made by Vectorbeam, and the interview
with Tim Skelly indicates that the game was made around the time of Star Hawk.
Barrier can be described best with numerous comparisons to Mattel's hand held
football game.  For those of you who are too young to remember this toy, it
was simply 21 LEDs in a 3 by 7 grid.  Lit LEDs represented the opponent,
and you used the buttons to run your guy (also a lit LED) past the opponents
to the endzone!  One difference was between Barrier and Mattel's football
game was game play is psudo 3d tapering off into the distance to form 
a first person perspective.  Another difference is that the playfield is 4
squares wide by 7 deep.  The control panel is quite similar to both Star
Hawk and Warrior, which were just about the same time. 

Star Hawk is a rare Cinematronics games made in 1978, that never did catch on.
The game play is similar to the Star Wars trench scene.  You fly above the
trench shooting enemies on the surface of the sphere and in the trench, and
the KLOV description says that a "pirate" ship flies through every so often
and shoots your score causing you to loose 800 points!  Sort of like the UFO
in Space Invaders, but with offensive capabilities!!  Star Hawk uses a
standard joystick to control the crosshairs for aiming, and besides the fire
button there are three buttons that control the speed that the crosshairs
move.  Note that KLOV also lists a game called Space Hawk, but my research
into the late 70's Replay magazines never lists a game called Space Hawk
leading me to believe that Space Hawk in KLOV is really suppose to be Star
Hawk.



TECH NOTE: While Barrier used a larger monitor than the traditional 19"
Cinematronics monitor, the game used only the upper third of the 25" monitor.
Barrier is the only game that had a vertically mounted monitor.  The back door
had to be cut to accomadate the neck!  There has been some conjecture that the
game was slapped into a Speed Freak cabinet, and only a few prototypes were
made.  Barrier's sound board was as sparse as a Space Wars sound board
(implying that it may be possible to wire wrap one), and the traces on the
sound board are not organized at all though traces are on both sides of the
PCB.  The Vectorbeam mother board didn't have any special wiring modifications
except for the JMI interrupt.

Star Hawk is a relatively rare game, but does have some notable differences
between it and older Cinematronics games.  For the first time with Star
Hawk, the sound board of a Cinematronics game was quite organized, had
traces on both sides and was designed to be easily repaired because sections
of the circuit could be isolated.  This would be the start of a trend, and
all future Cinematronics games had a similarly designed sound board.

As implied in an earlier paragraph, Star Hawk used two masked ROMs.  The
JMI interrupt was hooked up in a bizarre way. The 8th pin on the connector
going from the mother board to the sound board was the source of the JMI's
wire modification, instead of more typical places to source the signal!
The board set is the Rev B Cinematronics mother board with two empty places
right next to the masked ROMs (same hardware configuration as Space Wars
and I've converted Star Hawks to run with Space Wars).  The numbers on the
Star Hawk masked ROMs are:

BOARD SET #1:  93163-2325                       93163-2326
                 3-50001          and             3-50002
                 GI 7910                          GI 7910


NOTE: Some time around when Star Hawk, Barrier, Sundance or Warrior were
being made, Vectorbeam and Cinematronics combined!!!!!!


SUNDANCE (Vect) and WARRIOR (Vect)
----------------------------------

Sundance was one of Tim Skelly's first game...he went on to make the
classics, Rip Off, Star Castle and finally Reactor.  Sundance was not very
popular and very few were made.  A first person perspective was used and the
game was rather simple.  Sundance consisted of two tictactoe boards (with
borders thus making them into three by three matrixes) that where place above
(where the clouds would be in a first person perspective) and below (on the
ground in a first person perspective).  The controls were a matrix of buttons
(three row and three columns) that corresponded to the squares on the bottom
tictactoe board.  By pushing the button, the player caused a "hole" to appear
in that square.  The game consisted of "suns" (which looked more like
astericks) being released from the upper tictactoe board and falling down to
the bottom tictactoe board where ideally you'd open up a hole in the correct
square and swallow the sun!  If you didn't, then the sun would bounce back up
and bounce off of the upper tictactoe board only to return again.  Thus you'd
have another chance to swallow the sun in a hole!  However, as the game
progressed, the tictactoe boards would get close, and if I remember correctly
by allowing suns to bounce back and forth this would cause the tictactoe boards
to move closer together.  Either that our the suns (after numerous bounces)
would become unstable.  Whatever the case, the game would end because you
didn't swallow the suns in a hole fast enough!  As I said before the game
was quite simple....

Warrior is a 1978 Vectorbeam/Cinematronics, 2 player game that was truly a
work of art from the game designing perspective!  The layout of the cabinet
combined with the black light shining on the numerous cardboard cut outs
makes for an incredible playfield!!!  One difference from the other 
Cinematronics games is the mounting of the monitor, which you look down into
(the neck of the tube is pointing straight down).  A piece of mirror glass is
also used to mirror in  some of the playing field.  Below is a side view of
the cabinet to give a better idea of how the playing field is constructed.

                  --------------
     playfield    |            |
     cardboard    |            |
     cut out being|            |
     reflected in |            |
     w/ mirror--> | ---------- |    PLAYERS
                  |            |     STAND
     more         | |          | o    HERE
     cardboard--> | |          | | <-------------joysticks
                  | |          |---
     mirror-----> | ---------- |  |
                  |            |---
     tube ------> | ---------- |
     that can     | \        / |
     show images  |  \      /  |
     through the  |   \    /   |
     mirror       |    \  /    |
                  |     ||     |
                  |            |
                  |            |
                  |            |
                  --------------

The playing field consists of the mirrored in cardboard cut outs (being
reflected in by mirror) and the top view of knights (or rephrased a "bird's
eye" view) being displayed on the Cinematronics BW vector monitor from below.
Together they show a scene of two knights fighting around two square pits!
Each knight is controlled by a joystick, and proceed to fight each other by
swinging long swords at each other until one of them dies and goes spinning
into the pit!! (NOTE:  The wiring modification to the masked ROMs do not be
connected if you use 2532 EPROMS!)




TECH NOTE: Warrior used a modified hardware configuration (2 masked ROMs and
the 6th pin specially wired) because of the differences between 2532s and
2732s. Below are the numbers from two sets of Warrior boards.

BOARD SET #1:  MA0804-01                        MA0804-02
               01950 N69          and            003N69
               0090 7942                         320091

BOARD SET #2:  MA0804-01                        MA0804-02
                 088056           and             088056
              320090 7945                      320090 7945



While no one on the net has ever seen the Sundance hardware, it is fair to
say that given the complexity of the variable intensity display Sundance must
have alot of modifications to hardware.  Up till then, neither Cinematronics or
Vectorbeam every tried to use the variable intensity option!  However, because
of the simplicity of game play, there should be two masked, 1K ROMs. If anyone
sees Sundance or knows where the hardware might be stored, I'd be quite
interested....you can contact me at ofoz@intgp1.att.com or
ozdemir@xenon.stanford.edu and I'll pay you top dollar (a minimum of $100
for a complete board set, more if it is working) for your find!


TAIL GUNNER (Vect) and TAIL GUNNER II (Vect)
--------------------------------------------

For the time, Tail Gunner was truly one of Cinematronics greatest triumphs!
The game's perspective is first person with a receding star pattern as
background.  Groups of three enemy ship (displayed in 3-D like Battlezone)
and you try to shoot them down by lining the sites up with them and firing.
If you miss any one of them, you can use a shield to prevent them from getting
by you.  You have a limited number of shield uses, and after enemy ships get
by you a certain number of times the game is over.  As the waves progress, the
enemy ships get faster, but the game play doesn't get much more complex.
Technologically, Tail Gunner does deviate the most from the standard hardware.
First, Tail Gunner came out in a sit-down version, Tail Gunner II.  Second,
the control panel has a pots joystick used to aim the site.  And third, due
to the complexity of the 3-D display program a daughter board with numerous
EPROMS (and banking hardware) was added, though in some case the boards used
4 masked ROMs.

TECH NOTE: Tail Gunner's sound board is much more complicated than any
sound board before it (except for Speed Freak's sound board).  Besides
having the daughter board for 2708's connected to the sound board via
a six pin Molex connector, there is a second six pin Molex connector that
the joystick's pots are connected to!  The daughter board for 2708s contains
only the power regulators (7815 and 7915) that cut the +25v and -25v from the
sound board down to +15v and -15v for the 2708's, and eight 2708's.  The
daughter board is bolted perpendicularly to the sound board.  Warriors
has the same connector coming of the sound board to supply a daughter board,
but the only Warriors to date has been found with masked ROMs.  The second
6 pin Molex connector is used to route the analog signal from the joystick
to the DACs on the monitor.  The analog signal is then converted to digital
signals that the mother board can use.  Oddly enough, there isn't any way
to adjust/initialize the joystick on Tail Gunner!  Another piece of trivia
is that a Cinematronics Rev K mother board from Star Castle was put in a
Tail Gunner cabinet and the video output was screwed up....we guessed that
it had something to do with the Cinematronics mother board trying to use
the same slots in the DACs that the different wiring harness in Tail Gunner
used to decode the control panel joystick!  (We did put the Star Castle
mother board back in a Star Castle cabinet, and the boards were verified
to be working).  The conclusion that may be drawn from this experience
is that while most Vectorbeam/Cinematronics cabinets can use any set of
Vectorbeam/Cinematronics boards, both Tail Gunner and Speed Freak cabinets
may be wired differently so that other Vectorbeam/Cinematronics board sets
won't work in them!!

All sound boards up till Tail Gunner only used five of the nine pins on the
Molex connector for speaker, +25v, -25v, +5v and ground, since the pot control
the volume was actually on the sound board.  The extra pins are used to handle
the larger voltages and extra grounds.  All further Cinematronics games
remoted the volume pot on the coin door, and as such needed to use three
of the extra pins to connect up the pot.  The consequence of this is that
putting pre-Rip Off sound boards into Rip Off or later cabinets causes
the speaker in the Rip Off cabinet to be connected to +25v.  I haven't
broken a sound board yet, by doing this, BUT you'll hear one hell of a
squeal/static on the speaker by doing this!!



RIP OFF (Rev B/H/K) and STAR CASTLE (Rev H/K) (and WAR OF THE WORLDS)
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Rip Off, made in 1979 by Cinematronics, starts a series of VERY popular video
games that used the BW vector monitor and sometimes an overlay.  If you can
only think of one game made by Cinematronics, it's probably Rip Off or Star
Castle!!  The game play is intense...probably as intense as Robotron.  When
the game starts, the players have an over head view of 10 to 15 fuel pods
that are in the middle of the playfield and represented by triangles.  The
enemy appears in groups of three at a random point on the border of the
screen and proceeds to try to "rip off" the fuel pods by momentarily pausing
by one fuel pod to link it up and drag it off the screen.  While one of the
three ships in the group is attempting to "rip off" a fuel pod, the other two
enemy ships will attempt to kill you and your partner (if the game is being
played by two players).  The truly original part to Rip Off is that the game
only ends when all the fuel pods have been taken off the screen....SO you can
die as often as you like!!!  You just reappear at your starting point after a
brief delay!  The strategy of the game is dramatically changed by the infinite
life approach, since you now can suicide into enemy ships if you like!!  The
control panel to Rip Off is composed of buttons and in the standard Asteroids
layout minus the hyperspace button.  There are controls for two players, so
with the start buttons there was 10 buttons on the control panel!

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Rip Off is the game that started me collecting video games...
mainly because of the intense gameplay and teamwork in the two player game!
A few minor details that weren't mentioned above are that only 4 bullets are
allowed on the screen at one time AND you can get set it up so that a single
enemy ship will loop around you infinitely (so you can go to the bathroom)!)

Star Castle is an equally popular game made in 1980 by Cinematronics.  While
the game does not involve two players on the playfield at the same time, Star
Castle make up for the lack of teamwork by providing VERY difficult enemies!
The game starts with a single ship in the middle surrounded by "spinning
rings" that you can run into without being destroyed.  The perspective is
"bird's eye" as with most Cinematronics games.  The ship and rings have
different colors due to the color overlay.  By shooting at the rings, you
open up holes to shoot through and when the holes of the different rings
align themselves, you can get a straight shot to the stationary ship in
the center of the screen with all the rings around it.  The ship rotates
and follows you as you cross the screen, though it won't anticipate that
you are about to wrap around to the other side of the screen.  The down side
is that whenever the rings align to give you a straight shot, the center
ship takes a shot at you also!!  If you do manage to kill the center ship, you
do get an extra ship, so if you both manage to hit each other you'll come out
ahead.  The last part of the gameplay is the small ships that live on the
rings and cannot shoot you.  When the section of the ring (with a small ship
on it) gets destroyed by your shots, these small ships are released and
proceed to home in on you and destroy you!  You can trick them into running
into the ring, and the small ship reconnects with that ring section until
you come along and destroy that section of the ring.  These small ships are
not numerous, but annoying enough that you must keep moving to avoid them!  

(AUTHOR'S NOTE:  One time I powered up my Star Castle and a power glitch
caused me to start with 365 ships!  I took an hour or two and played almost
all of the ships to see if the score wrapped around at 100,000 points.  Well,
it didn't (and I should have expected this since Rip Off will allow scores
above 100,000), however I did find out that at extremely high levels the
center ship will rotates so fast it's instanteous!  Also, just like Rip
Off, the gameplay has a maximum speed that is still playable.  Never does
it get so hard that you don't have a chance.)

War of the Worlds was a conversion for Star Castle.  Given the rarity of
the game, it's debatable that the game was popular or even had a decent
production run.  Again, to date no one has seen the board set, and only
old issues of Replay magazine prove the game existed.  The game's control
panel use the same layout as Star Castle.



TECH NOTE: Starting with Rip Off, four socketed 2716's hold the game.  No
jumpers are needed, and for the most part these games can be considered the
"standard" Cinematronics hardware.  Different wiring modifications are used
in later games for 2732's, but Cinematronics never really changed the mother
board significantly in later games.  For this reason (along with the standard
connectorization described above), you can EASILY covert the games from one
to the other by merely burning new EPROMS!!  If you decide to change sound
boards and do minor rewiring of the buttons, you can be playing the other
game in its original form!!  A small detail, which may affect conversions,
is that the dipswitch settings for Rip Off are slightly different from most
other Cinematronics boards.  Rip Off has the dipswitch for diagnostics set
to OFF (not surprising give the name is Rip OFF) for normal play, where as
Star Castle, Armor Attack and Solar Quest all have the dipswitch for
diagnostics set to ON.  In most other respects, the other dipswitches for
these four games have the same meaning and thus can have the same settings!

Note that Rip Off mother boards have been found that seem to be old Rev B
board that were upgraded from Space Wars or Star Hawk and now run Rip Off.
When the second revision of this document was written several attempts to
"retrograde" the Rev B boards had been attempted with no success.  All that
happened was a working Rip Off board set was broken!


ARMOR ATTACK (Rev K) and SOLAR QUEST (Rev K)
--------------------------------------------

Armor Attack is the most complicated game Cinematronics game!  Produced in
1980, Armor Attack allows two players to jointly compete against the computer.
Like Warrior, the Armor Attack relies heavily on images not displayed on the
vector monitor and instead uses an intricate overlay to define the playfield.
Using the typical "bird's eye" view, the playfield is the center square of a
town where a few enemies tanks come out from a dozen or so possible points on
the perimeter of the screen.  Your jeep in the middle of the square must go
through the streets and around the buildings trying to destroy the tanks
without being hit by the tanks.  Occasionally, a helicopter that is
unrestricted by the buildings comes out and tries to shoot your jeep.
Tanks must be hit twice to be killed, and their movement is disabled if
they are hit by one shot....the tanks can still shoot you!  After all tanks
are killed, another round starts and several more tanks come out.  If you
manage to kill five helicopter, then you are awarded an extra jeep!  The
controls to the games are identical to Rip Off.  You have the standard
Asteroids controls (minus the hyperspace), so you're looking at ten buttons
and not much more!

Solar Quest was the final game that Cinematronics used BW vectors.  Solar
Quest was produced in 1981, didn't have a long production run even though
it was so complex and had extra hardware on the monitor to generate 64
different intensity levels.  Using the typical "bird's eye" view, the
playfield looks very much like Space Wars.  You have a sun in the center and
an Asteroids-shaped ship, that does have the capability to launch "nukes" in
addition to the typical laser.  The "nuke" act like photon torpedos in Star
Trek and you detonate it by pushing the button a second time.  A hyperspace
button is also available.  When a round starts, several ships appear on the
border of the screen.  Each progressive round reveals ships with more
complex flight patterns.  When the ships are destroyed, a "colonists" appears
which you can rescue for big points or just shoot for less points.  By
collecting five colonists, you get another nuke so it's not just a matter
of points.  The control panel has the standard Asteroids layout with an
additional button next to the hyperspace to handle the "nukes". 


TECH NOTE: As with Rip Off and Star Castle, four socketed 2732's are used in
the game.  Wiring modifications are needed since you have 2732's, but for the
most part these games can be considered the "standard" Cinematronics hardware.
For this reason (along with the standard connectorization described above), you
can EASILY covert the games from one to the other by merely burning new EPROMS!
Just like Rip Off and Star Castle, if you decide to change sound boards and
do minor rewiring of the buttons, you can be playing the other game in its
original form!!  One notable exception beyond the more complicated sound
boards is the extra daughter board on Solar Quest's monitor that produces
64 different vector intensities.  To use the extra daughter board, a wire on
the side of the mother board with all the connectors needs to be moved from
"NORM" to "VAR" where VAR stands for variable intensity.  The wire is about
a quarter inch long, and shouldn't be moved to VAR if you are using the
standard Cinematronics monitor without the daughter board!


BOXING BUGS (Rev K) and COSMIC CHASM (didn't use bit sliced architecture)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Boxing Bugs is color vector made in 1981 by Cinematronics.  This was one of
the few color vector games produced by Cinematronics, and only one exists
among all the owners in VAPS.  The game is best described as Star Castle in
reverse...you are the stationary ship in the center being pestered by ship
flying all around.  Except instead of ships, there are BUGS!  Your stationary
ship in the center of the screen is a boxing glove, and you don't have any
rings protecting you!!  The game concept is similar to Black Widow if you've
ever played that game.  Controls are a knob (feels like a Clarostat or pot,
not a whirligig) and three buttons, one helpfully labeled "PANIC".

Cosmic Chasm was the other color vector produced by Cinematronics in 
1983 on a completely new set of hardware.  Game play is similar to Boxing
Bugs, except that you have a mobile ship that shoots many shots.  From
round to round you watch your ship traverse a map till it gets to the
center of the map where a reactor is.  Once you destroy the reactor,
you are suppose to escape back the way you came.  It was originally written
for the Vectrex.  It had a cool cabinet with viewports larger than but
reminiscent of Battlezone.  Controls were a rotary knob, fire, thrust and
shield buttons, and the marquee was 3-sided like Dragon's Lair.  The artwork
on the cabinet, control panel and marque is FANTASTIC!!


TECH NOTE:  Both of these games are quite remarkable from a hardware
perspective, however given the rarity of these games (less than half
a dozen found over five years) I doubt the technological feats that
Cinematronics successfully attempted will be widely known.  Both games
were put into modified Dragon's Lair cabinets, and the Cosmic Chasm
cabinet has FOUR florescent lamps in it!

Boxing Bugs has the standard Cinematronics hardware with variable intensity
used.  Besides a daughter board holding 8 2732s and connected by ribbon
cable directly to the EPROM sockets (similar to Warrior's and Tail Gunner's
daughter board that held 8 2708s plus a power regulator), Boxing Bugs has
a completely new board that translates the Cinematronics BW variable
intensity signals to Atari color XY where each intensity represents a
color!  This translator board has the usual DACs that you find on an
Cinematronics BW monitor.  The Boxing Bug's sound board is bigger than
the standard Cinematronics mother board, and does use digital circuits
to play music (though there isn't any sound chips).  While it has never
been tried (because would you risk your Boxing Bugs hardware attempting
this), it is feasible that Solar Quest could be plugged into the Boxing
Bugs place and you could play Solar Quest on the Atari XY!  A standard Condor
power supply is used, but it is augmented by an extra isolation transformer
that goes to the Atari color XY monitor.

Cosmic Chasm represents the first and only departure from the standard
Cinematronics mother board used in all vector games!  In fact, other than
the Cinematronics name on the front of the cabinet there is very little
in the cabinet that looks reminiscent of the Cinematronics XY hardware!!
Besides the standard Cinematronics XY power supply, a second Dragon's
Lair power supply and two more transformers are used to power a modified
Sega color XY monitor.  All the power supply equipment is bolted to a
huge sheet of metal that goes across the bottom of the cabinet.

The Cosmic Chasm boards generate the signals expected by the Sega color
XY monitor, so no translation board is needed.  The boards are a double
stack that are longer and thinner (more like Atari boards) with two large
ribbon cables connecting the two boards, and besides the JAMMA sized edge
connector (again like Atari boards) there's only one small connector
with less than a dozen pins between the two ribbon cables that goes to
the Sega monitor.  One board has a 68000 processor, and both boards have
a daughter board with at least dozen EPROMS that looks more like the insides
of a large cartridge.  These "cartridges" are connected via a edge connector
and run parallel to each board separated by only an eighth of an inch from
the board.  The sound section on one of the boards does contain sound chips
and bears no resemblance to the previous Cinematronics sound boards.



MISCELLANEOUS
-------------

Embargo, Zzyzzyxx and Rocket Racer are rare boards that we guess may exist,
but have never found any evidence of (except for one Rocket Racer board set).
Rocket Racer was made by Rockola, and deviated from previous Cinematronics
sound boards in that it used a sound chip.


***********************************
2150 from rec/games/video/arcade/collecting
Subject: Conversation with Tim Skelly
***********************************
From: davidhan@csn.org (David Hanes)
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 02:05:52 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.games.video.arcade.collecting

Hi all, here's some Cinematronics info that I've been meaning to post
for a while.

I managed to find Tim Skelly who was one of the key design engineers who
worked for Cinematronics.  Tim was originally an artist when he was
started work at Cinematronics, and I think that a lot this influence
is what made these games so interesting.

In any case, this is the list of games (in chronological order) that
Tim Skelly programmed and designed:

        StarHawk
        Sundance
        Warrior (built by Vectorbeam, which Cinematronics owned)
        Rip-Off
        Armor Attack

Tim said that somewhere in the middle he designed "Star Castle" and
"War of the Worlds".  Scott Boden did the programming on "Star Castle",
and Rob Pattin (sp?) did the programming on "War of the Worlds".

After Tim left Cinematronics in 1981, Scott Boden also designed and
programmed Solar Quest.

In addition to his design and programming work, Tim Skelly did
the on-screen graphics for all of the games in the first list, and
art directed the cabinet art as well).  Speaking of cabinet art,
Tim Skelly hired Frank Brunner to do the artwork on RipOff and Warrior.
Tim said that Frank was a talented comic book artist who drew Dr. Strange and
the first issues of Howard the Duck, as well as other titles.

Tim Skelly was also the producer on "Tail Gunner".

Tim mentioned that Sundance is an extremely rare games because less than
1000 boards were built, and most of them didn't work.  The boards
apparently required an enormous amount of cutting and jumpering
to enable multiple levels of line intensity.  Tim also said that the
game was popular with some people, but that it didn't test well.

Here's some of Tim's other comments:

- War of the Worlds was hampered by the machine's horse-power.  They
  couldn't get enough bad guys on the screen at once to be really
  challenging.

- "Blitz" was a rare game, A Cinematronics knock-off of the Mattel hand
  held football game.  Tim said the game was pretty bad.

- "Boxing Bugs", Cinematronics first attempt at a cute vector game.
  Was done after Tim had left.  Tim wasn't aware that the game was released.

- "Speed Freak".  A driving game done by Larry Rosenthal, (who had
  designed the original board and Space Wars).  Speed Freak
  was Larry's first game for Vectorbeam, which he later sold to
  Cinematronics.

That was pretty much the info that I got from Tim Skelly, he seems like
a very nice guy, and I sure appreciated the time he spent in giving
me this information.

I subsequently talked to Scott Boden (programmer of Star Castle,
and Solar Quest), he also was very nice, but didn't have a whole lot
of additional information to add.  The one interesting tidbit that
he mentioned was about the "star field" in the Star Castle game, he
said that a lot of people asked him what the pattern was based on,
a constellation or what?  The answer is amusing now, but apparently
wasn't to Cinematronics management, it's the outline of a Playboy
centerfold!

Well, I hope this information was of interest to the Cinematronics
collectors out there.  I'm still on my quest to track down some
of the Cinematronics hardware technicians, but so far I haven't had
much luck.

Dave


Subject: Boxing Bugs
To: ofoz@intgp1.att.com (Steven S Ozdemir +1 708 979 6742)
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 1994 23:15:44 -0800 (PST)
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.4 PL21]
Mime-Version: 1.0

The adapter board converts the digital signal that used to go to the
Cine b/w monitor into an analog signal acceptable by the Atari color x/y.
It has the same Burr Brown 12-bit DAC and a lot of similar circuitry to
the old monitor itself.

The BB CPU looks just like all the other B/W ones except
it has a daughter board to fit 32K of ROM (4kx8 x 8).  Sound board is
similar principle to the old ones, a circuit for each sound, and thus is
absolutely gigantic (bigger than the CPU) although some circuits are
digital.

Total of 4 boards: CPU, ROM farm, sound, XY driver.  Control is a knob and
two buttons (on each side but I assume they're wired in parallel), and
1P/2P start.  Cabinet is a Solar Quest cabinet with no mirrors or other
stuff, just a Wells X/Y with smoked glass in front.  Sides just have a
big (and cheesy) Cinematronics logo on a white background.

// g

 


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