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May 2015 Retro Gaming Article


May 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Williams' 1979 Gorgar pinball was the first commercial table to offer speech

I recently saw a promotional poster for Williams' Gorgar pinball machine. With a risque promo poster and backglass with a Boris Vallejo vibe, I decided to see what I could find out about it. So many articles often begin this way ;)
Gorgar pinball ad
Released in December 1979, this 4-player William's pinball machine was the first commercially produced pinball table to incorporate voice. It had a 7-word vocabulary consisting of: Gorgar, Speaks, Beat, You, Me, Hurt, and Got.

Some early video games used alternate analog means to produce sounds. Sega's The Fonz video game employed an 8-track tape player to produce motorcycle sounds. In addition to "talking" Gorgar had pretty good sounds for a late 70s table.

Gorgar speaks! Me hurt you!
I don't believe this was the case with Gorgar, as the machine's vocabulary could be put into various combinations to form short phrases. I think each word was stored and triggered via game play. The manual references a Model D 8224 sound board which makes me think the voice was on a chipset of sorts.

If the snake pit captures your ball, via an under-board magnet, Gorgar bellows, "Me got you", as opposed to an ailing "Me Hurt" if you hit the snake pit target. He'll roar, "You beat me" if you hit the 1,2,3,4 targets.

Some of this table's stats can be found on the Internet Pinball Database. While reminiscent of Vallejo, the artwork is credited to Constantino Mitchell and Jeanine Mitchell, both of whom worked on other Williams' tables among others. Eugene Jarvis apparently worked on the sound.


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