From Sega Retro

Cinematronics logo.png
Founded: 1975-04-11 (Incorporated: 1975-05-16)
Defunct: 1987
Merged with: Tradewest
Merged into: Leland Corporation
Headquarters: 1841 Friendship DriveMore...[1], El Cajon, San Diego, California, USA (formerly: Kearny Mesa, San Diego)

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Cinematronics Incorporated was an arcade game development company, founded on April 11th, 1975[2][3][4][5] in Kearny Mesa, San Diego, by former AFL / NFL San Diego Chargers players Gary Garrison[6] (Gary Lynn Garrison) and Dennis Partee[6] (Dennis Franklin Partee), and its associate Jim Pierce[7] (Jimmie Dale Pierce) from Missouri, who was a former beet farmer in Imperial Valley.

In its first two years, the company produced only three games, which consisted of a Pong clone, Flipper Ball[8], a copy of TV Pinball released in 1974 by Exidy (which in fact was a copy of TV Pin Game released in 1973 by Chicago-based company Chicago Coin), and their first original game, Embargo[9]. The games were not particularly notable and the company was almost bankrupt and soon Dennis Partee and Gary Garrison lost interest in it, selling their shares of the company to Jim Pierce, which moved it from Kearny Mesa to El Cajon shortly after.

Jim Pierce was in dire need of a hit to keep the company from going under, when pioneer video game designer, Larry Rosenthal[10] (Lawrence David Rosenthal, founder of Sierra Systems), a former student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited the company in late 1977 to show its invention, the "Vectorbeam System"[11], (based on the first known video game to be played at multiple computer installations, namelly Spacewar!). Jim Pierce hired Larry Rosenthal as the sole creator of games and the company released Larry's invention in the form of Space Wars[12] in that year (the most successful game in the history of Cinematronics Incorporated), the first arcade game to utilize black & white vector graphics, which instantly became a hit, selling at least 10,000 units, saving the company from bankruptcy.

In 1978 Larry Rosenthal left Cinematronics to create its own company Vectorbeam[13], and was replaced by video game designer Tim Skelly (Timothy Skelly) which helped in the creation of Starhawk, Sundance and Warrior in 1979, Rip-Off, Armor Attack and Star Castle in 1980 and War of the Worlds released in 1982.

In 1983 in a partnership with Rick Dyer's (the creator of Time Traveler, the successful "holographic video game" published by Sega in 1991) RDI Video Systems (formerly Advanced Microcomputer Systems) Cinematronics released Dragon's Lair, one of the first laserdisc-based arcade games, followed by Space Ace in 1984.

In 1987 Cinematronics Incorporated was acquired by Tradewest and renamed the Leland Corporation and continued to produce arcade and PC games until 1994, when the company was itself acquired by WMS Industries, Inc., an American electronic gaming and amusement manufacturer based in Enterprise, Nevada.



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