It Talks!

We all take talking pinball machines for granted these days.  In fact, I find them to be very helpful since I can listen for what’s going on rather than being distracted by flashing indicators.  But there was a time when that idea was new.  I can’t believe it’s been 45 years!

Enter Gorgar, the first commerically-released talking pinball machine.  To be fair, it had a vocabulary of only 7 words (no, not George Carlin’s 7 words!), but the design team used them wisely to create more options.  In a time when we hear computers do this all the time, it’s no big deal.  But back then, it was really something.  The speech processing was even done by a separate team from the software engineers.

Williams Electronics had prototyped some other tables with this feature, but they were never released.  They believed in the concept, producing 14,000 units.  While the talking feature was optional when ordering, nearly everyone who ordered the machine chose to add it.  I recall seeing Gorgar in a lot of places, and most people had seen it even if they hadn’t played it, and everyone commented on the talking part.

The 7 words are: Gorgar, speaks, beat, you, me, hurt, got

The machine itself is OK, but pretty generic in terms of features and game play.  The pace is very slow, which is helpful for new players.  Some felt the backglass art was too suggestive, so there was some pushback at the time when arcades were popping up everywhere and some thought that the young people frequenting them might be corrupted by looking at the machine.  Some things never change, do they?