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Patents Entertainment Games

Gaming Patents From Years Past 15

The Technologizer has collected a series of electronic gaming patents spanning from 1969 to 1989. The list includes devices such as the Atari joystick, Simon Says, and Nintendo's Game Boy. It also has a variety of less popular devices, at least some of which should be familiar to anyone who was gaming back then. Here's one description: "A game machine has a plurality of targets which unpredictably come out and disappear from their corresponding holes at the surface of a table on a game stand. A player can only strike targets which are positioned above the surface thereof. A main shaft is provided with the target on its upper end and is supported by bearings in such a manner that it can rotate and move up and down. A plunger disposed at the periphery of the main shaft is magnetically attracted by an electromagnetic solenoid. When raised, the main shaft always faces a predetermined direction due to an action of permanent magnets. Hitting of the target can be detected by monitoring abrupt large fluctuations in the current flowing through the solenoid during a period of time that the target is caused to appear above the table." The game? Whack-a-mole.
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Gaming Patents From Years Past

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  • There was an 87 patent of representing 3D objects on a 2D screen. Was that included? Cause I think a few games may rely on that sort of method.

  • by slugtastic ( 1437569 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:45AM (#26354601)

    When raised, the main shaft always faces a predetermined direction due to an action of permanent magnets.

    Giggity giggity, sounds kinky.

  • Whack-a-solenoid-causing-fluctuations-in-the-current

    Maybe they should have just stuck to that name?

  • by GrpA ( 691294 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:35AM (#26354825)

    I thought Whack-A-Mole was a game developed and played by organised crime long before electronic games were developed.

    It had a proprietary interface that looked more like it was from time crisis though.


  • How about the square enix patent on ATB?

  • by tamyrlin ( 51 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @06:18AM (#26355629) Homepage

    The article mostly covered design patents which is good if you want to see pretty pictures.

    Personally (as I'm working with electronics), I'm much more fascinated by patents which tells me how the hardware works (or might have worked).

    For example, for those of you who whose first exposed to real-time bitmap scaling on the SNES I present US patent 4107665 ( Apparatus for continuous variation of object size on a raster type video screen ) from 1977 and assigned to Atari which is about scaling bitmap images in real-time on a video screen. (I would really like to know if this method was used for real in some Atari arcade hardware or not.)

    You can find lots of these gems by searching patents assigned to Atari, Nintendo, Commodore, etc. One of my favorite patents is US Patent 4325121 which is a very detailed discussion of the inner working of the Motorola 68000 (this even includes a complete listing of the microcode). (Although it should be noted that there are probably some differences between the patent and the processor.)

    If anyone has any more examples of nice and interesting patents like this I would love to hear about them.

    • In my mind, it mostly covered good patents. If someone builds and patents a Whack-A-Mole machine, that's a good patent. These days it would be a patent for a game in which you hit things with a mallet, no implementation included.

  • A game machine has a plurality of targets which unpredictably come out and disappear...
    Sounds like a counter-insurgency.
  • Oh man when I saw that picture it sure brought a spike of memory back. My brother and I used to love playing that game. The 9 LEDs on the home plate would blink representing the type of pitch. You'd have to press swing at the right time. The game would then use an announcer type voice to dictate what happened and various LED's would light up. I think there was some sort of cartridge that you placed in the "outfield bleachers" area. Anyway, good times, good times...

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak