Space Invaders

Space Invaders is an early arcade shooter and arguably the most successful arcade game from video game history’s ‘bronze age’. Designed by Taito designer Tomohiro Nishikado, Space Invaders enjoyed massive success in Japan before Midway licensed it for distribution in the US in the fall of 1978. As of 2016, it remains the highest-grossing video game to date and an urban legend states that the game’s initial popularity led to a shortage of 100-yen coins when first released in Japan.

This is the original Midway-produced standard upright cabinet and includes the Braze multi-game kit featuring other Intel 8080 8-bit processor-based games of the era. Drawing from a display technique used by early coin-operated electro-mechanical rifle games, the cabinet superimposes the game’s black-and-white monitor display over a colorful artistic rendering of a blacklight-reactive moonbase. The result is a visual masterpiece.

Space Invaders is the first arcade video game cabinet I ever owned. My father managed a shoe store during the early-1980s, and when the parent company closed his store, he was tasked with closing the store and liquidating the assets and store fixtures. An owner of a small bakery nearby expressed an interest in some display fixtures, so he and my dad arranged a trade for one of several old arcade video games tucked away in the backroom of the bakery. I can still vividly remember walking back there with my dad and picking out the Space Invaders, the only title I instantly recognized among the other black-and-white arcade games. We hauled it home where it sat, non-working, waiting to be repaired. Unsure how to proceed, my dad soon traded it to my uncle who eventually did get it working. I would play it in his garage whenever we went to visit.

In keeping with the tradition, the game in the collection is one of the first arcade games I acquired – this one from an auction in California, and unlike that first game, this one’s unlikely to ever leave. The game and its cabinet is a true classic.