Second Robotron cabaret prototype found in Illinois!

Last night Chris got to see a Robotron prototype in a cabaret cabinet. That was 12 hours ago, I called to check on the Mad Planets I bought for $50 and he told me that the game was being wheeled out. I was so starstruck that I was getting that Gottlieb classic for $50 that it has taken some simmering to really realize the big story that is this Robotron prototype. Granted, it took a little research, but now that I know that this Robotron is quoted as one of two that exist from Eugene Jarvis himself, I know this is a huge deal!

Prototype this, prototype that

As I’ve been writing about different prototype’s, including the Cyberstorm out west and the rare, but not prototype Eagle, even the rare ‘prototype-ish’ Pengo sideart, the meaning of the word has lost some weight with me. But, those three games I just listed aren’t one of the most historic in classic gaming history. Finding this second Robotron prototype cabinet used by the Williams guys that has only been referenced in passing is a gigantic story in my opinion.

Enough blather you might be saying, let’s see the photos – let’s see the proof. Check out the photo album for about a dozen photos by clicking on the Robotron image below.

Check out photos of the second Williams Robotron prototype

The prototype has the black and white artwork, which I think is awesome maybe because it’s different, I don’t know. The back of the cabinet has a stenciled ‘Engineering Prototype’ just like the other prototype. One difference I noticed is the sideart. If you look at the photos provided, you can see that the zeros and the four have white in the middle, where the photos listed below showing the other prototype do not. the I am sure that if I did hours and hours of research I could recall all of the subtle differences, if there are any, of this cabaret vs other cabarets and the regular uprights. I am hoping that the huge Robotron fans will just add that content in the comments below, let me know the other differences.

The owner says that he has owned the game for years, having gotten it from a real Williams old timer. He used to work for Midway games and still has ties to Eugene Jarvis as well. Beyond that, I don’t have much more information at this point. If you look closely at the photo inside the Robotron coindoor you can see the little board with the monitor controls, indicating that at one time the original monitor may have been swapped out for a newer one.

Want to buy the Robotron prototype?

If you offer $5200, like the first prototype was initially listed for on eBay, and is now selling for around 5k on one of the links listed below, I am sure you could have it. It doesn’t sound like Scott is looking to sell, and for obvious reasons. But this is an extremely unique and valuable item to the right collector. Everything is for sale for the right price.

The Robotron prototype research

Here is the quick Robotron research – website links. As of this writing most of these links worked, many of them coming straight from the main eBay announcement on RGVAC back in 2006.

Related Robotron prototype posts

Huge thanks to Chris for letting me write the story even when he was the guy to take the photos and see the machine in person. There were some other parts that came with the Mad Planets deal, including some sort of flight stick prototype control panel from Midway with buttons positioned for all five fingers of a players hand. Pretty cool, check out that post at Tokens Only.

~Edit – March 28, 2009
More photos showing the boards and wiring of this prototype added to the photo album.

Here are some similar arcade posts

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.

User Gravatar

It was great to see such a cool piece of arcade history in person. Wish I had $5k laying around…!

User Gravatar

Thanks for the heads-up!

Sorry, to have to tell you this, but that “proto” cab is an homage, or a copy (or a fake)

I’m sitting here next to the original.

User Gravatar

Well Rory, you’ll have to wage a proof war with the original owner who now works with Eugene Jarvis, and worked for Midway before that.

I think Scott read this, we’ll have to see if he comments back.

User Gravatar

Thanks, Jeff:
I’d post pictures, but the last time I did that (of the first Defender prototype,) the pictures were good enough for someone to make repro art.

I bought the machine from Perfect Amusements in Chicago. My machine matches all the pictures, scars and all, plus has the moon patrol fill-in, white power supply, same numbered XPO boards, electronics, numbered keys, etc. The side art on my machine is stencilled. The above machine is not.

It may be Close, but no cigar.

BTW, I’ve got the first marquee that was on this machine, as well. The machine went from Jarvis to Williams and from Williams to a Williams executive’s home with the shown Robotron prototype marquee. The black “2084” original marquee came from researching a guy at Williams who kept it as a souvenir. (Francis would have been proud)

Anyway, the two marquees are likely what lead to the two machine thing. Two machines both stenciled “Engineering Prototype” = Bogus. I’d believe one marked engineering …and one marked software, marketing, etc.

User Gravatar

I know nothing about the cabinet other than what the guy that sold it to me told me. I cant remember his name (will figure it out with Jarvis for Jeff’s follow-up story), but he had been with Williams for a *long* time.

He worked in one of the engineering departments, and said he had an old cabaret Robotron to sell me. I was buying anything that said Robotron anywhere on it (ask me about my Soviet calculator or East German computer collection), so I picked it up.

I paid $600, never intending to sell it. The only reason ‘engineering prototype’ meant anything to me is because someone showed me an EBay link of one of them going for several thousand bucks.

If anyone cares to verify its authenticity, my door is always open. Until then, you all can discuss it till the cows come home 🙂

Besides, the only thing that matters when it comes to Robotron is who is the better player… you or I. Doesnt matter if we play it on a $5000 game or a $300 game.

And *that* is a question I know the answer to!

User Gravatar

Sounds fair to me!

Besides, I suck at Robotron…..

User Gravatar


You have the first prototype or the second? If you have the first then why can’t this be the second? It makes sense that there would be more than one prototype for use in development.

User Gravatar


Ah, so perfect Amusements is still trying to sell that machine, or has employed Mr. Sleepy web designer….

Factual information aside, the context lines up with Scott. I think that Scott can put any questions about authenticity to rest if he takes close up photos of the power supply – white should be something odd, a white PS of some sorts right? And if there are some controls in the coin door to reset the game…correct? Are those the identifying features of a prototype Robotron?

Fact is, there isn’t any hard evidence to support your argument right now.

User Gravatar

Now, in the first Robotron prototype here is the shot showing the back door with the similar ‘Engineering Prototype’ text. It could have been replicated by the most serious of guys I’m sure, so it will probably come down to the guts of the machine.

Robotron Backdoor Photo at Habosarcade.com

User Gravatar

(Comment moved to the appropriate post…)

I enjoyed seeing the pictures of the “second prototype.” However, if you look closely at the pictures you will see that you are wittingly or unwittingly …spreading misinformation.

Prototype William’s part numbers (as should be seen on the pictured marquee) end in P or C-P.
Both the plastic bezel and the CPO show TM indica. The real prototypes do not. Duh! The name has not been trademarked at/ or in the prototype stage. This information is not that hard to find.

The only prototype feature of that game is the paint color. However, looking closely you can tell it was not done with a factory stencil, as was the real one.

You have the responsibility to do some research, especially since you were alerted months ago.

User Gravatar


Thank you for sharing the information on how to identify Williams prototype model numbers. That is very interesting and helpful.

Any mistakes Jeff may have made were honest mistakes. I am glad he shared his unique Mad Planets find with us. Whether it turns out to be a prototype or just an uncommon paint job. 🙂

User Gravatar


I write on this blog for fun. Plus, there is only so much time in the day. I have no reason to at all doubt the circumstances surrounding the this other Robotron prototype. That is why we have this discussion.

You have been doing this for awhile, and certainly are a knowledge expert. Could you save me some time and just forward me the links to online resources that back up your information listed here? Thanks.

User Gravatar

OK, Guys:
I’d posted my comment in a less visible, (although certainly public place) solely to provide a historical record.

Sure, this is for fun. However, there is a certain amount of connoisseurship involved in the appreciation of any hobby.

I remember the dislike that I had when the Classic Car guys looked down on us Corvette people at important car shows.

We should not compete with one another on just how much we’ve spent on our toys.
I think it has to do with appreciation of the history, the appreciation of how things that we like were originally developed, programed, and built.

Most folks don’t have the interest to put together a collection of prototype games, so they depend on searches of the web to document or to “get a flavor” of the games history and development. I hate to see Jeff’s site get a reputation of spreading “bad” info.

I have a real prototype Robotron, Chris does not. That does not make me better than Chris. I just know some things that he does not, yet, know. (and enough money at the time to show my appreciation for it) People who are looking for knowledge or documentation certainly expect the straight story.

I’ll not bite on the previous challenge. (Chris, email me privately) Pictures I’d posted (of a Defender prototype) were good enough to make the fake Defender side art that is, now, floating around. I don’t have time to go there, again.

I’m not selling my video games, but I really too busy at the moment with pinball prototypes to worry with anything else. I’m confident classic arcade games, all of them, will be the next big social phenomena. We are all on the right track. Don’t screw it up!

The misinformed are prey for the many rip-off artists in this game. Nothing stops a trend faster than rampant scam artists. A self-policing community of enthusiasts will nurture any social movement, classic car or classic arcade.
Jeff: I’m sure you agree.

Good luck and happy gaming to all.

User Gravatar

Oops. I moved the reply to the wrong topic. I fixed all the relevant replies.

We know where you stand. This is the second comment you’ve left stating that you have the official prototype and that this one is not. You also sent me two private messages stating the same thing.

I certainly relate to not wanting to post photos, I wouldn’t want someone to make a reproduction machine off information you have, devaluing a machine you have. But, if you notice, I did not ask for photos of your machine. That is not what I am after. I would like some factual information written online somewhere that refutes what you are stating. Forum posts, other collector’s website copy talking about the research, etc. You reference doing ‘research’. I am asking you to just show me that research.

Otherwise, in the end, it comes down to your word vs. the word of former employee of Williams. Anyone reading this can take that at what they want.

Leave a comment

Your email address is never displayed and cannot be spammed. If your comments are excessively self-promotional you will be banned from commenting. Read our comment privacy policy.