He was the ‘Thomas Edison’ of the arcade game world…

That’s quite a comparison, to say that any arcade game creator had a similar level of genius and creativity to Thomas Edison. But that is the parellel made in this article published in July of 1987 that a reader sent to me. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the who and I’ll tell you right now its not Nolan Bushnell (Atari), Toru Iwatani (Pacman) or Shigeru Miyamoto (Donkey Kong). Is this image a hint?

Mr. Peanut Nutting Computer Space and Sam the Snowman

The Dave Nutting Associates Shooting Star

Computer Space is not the right Nutting associates (that would be Bill), but this is how folks remember the name “Nutting” and I had to get that image out of my head 😉

In an article ‘Arlington Lab offers invention for hire’ the Daily Herald made a comparison between the accomplishments of one Dave Nutting and Associates employee and the famous inventor Thomas Edison. This particular employee’s name is Jeff Frederiksen and this article talks about FSL, or Frederiksen Shu Laboratories and how they were inventors for hire – whitelabeling to the extreme you might say. Here is a scan and snippet of the article;

Jeff Frederiksen Newspaper Article

David Shu has a business sense, so he was careful when considering a partnership with Jeffrey Frederiksen, who has a creative sense.

So Shu decided to discuss Frederiksen’s abilities with respected friend, the late K. S. Fu, a professor of electrical engineering at Purdue University. Fu’s assessment of Frederiksen: “He’s not an academician. He’s and Edison.”

That’s all Shu had to hear, for in forming a research and development partnership, he needed not a scholar, but an inventor.

In the three years since Frederiksen & Shu Laboratories Inc. first started, Jeffrey Frederiksen has been involved in the creation of enough new products to being living up to comparisons to inventor Thomas Edison.

The article goes on to talk about Frederiksen’s history with Nutting Associates and some of his biggest inventions including;

A video imaging process called “Color Cell Compression” which condenses and transmits pictures over telephone lines. It’s now sold under the ColorCatcher label by Diversified Technology Inc.

Pretty amazing comparison to make, but Jeff does has an impressive resume, he just flew under the radar as part of a group of consultants ‘behind the curtain’ of Bally / Midway, and then moving away from gaming entirely. The natural talent described in this article made me think of Aaron Fechter of Rock-A-Fire fame, only Jeff went on to additional success through the right partnerships and talent.

I have written several articles here concerning my fascination with Dave Nutting Associates and their involvement with Bally / Midway. It was an awesome surprise to get this article scan in my email. Big shout out to Greg T. for supplying and letting me share this clipping.

Frederiksen Shu Laboritories (FSL) Info?

Both Shu and Frederiksen would now be getting up in years, and a cursory search for FSL didn’t turn up much for me. If you know anything more about this company – how long they lasted, if they were bought out, etc. drop me a line or leave me a comment.

Here are some similar arcade posts

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Hi Jeff,
Just opened your Email: Have you read REPLAY History of Video Games by Triston Donovan? He is an English author
that I mentioned earier. Fredericksen Shu Labs was a failure. Dave Shu ended his own life. Jeff moved to Califonia.
Regards, Dave Nutting

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@Dave Nutting: Thanks for dropping by and reading the note.

I see that book by Triston was released here in April. I did not know, it is certainly on my wish list for Amazon. I have to get it, especially if you were interviewed.

Thanks much for the information. Do you know what year Shu Labs went under? 1991? Earlier?

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I really like the comparison between Edison and Nutting, this is a nice little piece of arcade history, thanks for sharing. Very exciting that Mr. Dave Nutting replied to the thread, just sad about Dave Shu.

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If this is actually right at all. Greg is saying that this isn’t accurate.

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If there was ever a shop full of renaissance people it was Dave Nutting’s group. It was amazing to work with them. I was very saddened to hear about David Shu. My memories of him are only positive. It’s interesting what one remembers most vividly after all these years. And the fun of riding to a meeting in David’s DeLorian instantly came to mind.

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Hi Jeff,
Tom Meeks–a voice from the past. Let Tom and others
know that John Perkins passed on last spring in Cary, Ill.
When in Chicago area several weeks passed I had breakfast
with Karen, John’s wife
I found Tritan Donovan’s Book Replay extremely interesting: When I was running Dave Nutting Associates I did not know
what the other game design groups were up too. Now I know!! Dave Nutting

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John Perkins was another truly brilliant person with which I was lucky enough to have some great times. I’m very, very sorry to hear about his passing. What a team you put together, Dave! How to put it?

It’s a bit like having been a child actor, where the past was SO astounding that everything else in life must be measured by it. It’s truly hard to imagine another team that will ever live up to the level of that little creative engine churning away generating idea upon idea.

I cherish every minute of it.

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I have to stop a bit and say a few words about John Perkins. John came into the Astrocade team as a user and an engineer that had designed an add-on for the Bally Professional Arcade. He designed the Artilliary Duel game that Astrocade released. And, later teamed up with Bob Ogdon, also of Nutting Associates, to form Action Graphics, producing many more video games for the ColecoVision and other systems.

But, the project that I most often associate with him was the NEMO project for Nolan Bushnell and Hasbro. He came up with an ingenious way to interleave multiple video streams into single stream and called the system ‘ISIX’ I still have the original mixed video I produced for the first demo to Hasbro. Much more needs to be said about John. Because he, too, was a true innovator in the video game industry and I cannot find anything about him on the web.

What a great guy to have known.

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@Tom Meeks – I would love to hear more of the story you have to say about John, Dave and any other bits of arcade history. Consider contacting Jeff through the site, I’m sure he would be thrilled to “interview” you and do a nice write up for the blog. Thanks for sharing!

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I don’t know how exciting it would be. But, I do know this. The beehive of creativity that was Nutting Associates included not one or two; but, MANY people that I count among THE most talented I’ve ever known. And, few of them were monolithic in their creativity. Nor, did their achievements end with the collapse of the market for the first wave of video games.

I was actually with Astrocade. So, I wasn’t directly involved with the coin-op arcade games. But, there is one that was released that taught me that it’s possible to over tweak a game. Sometime in the middle of the development of Robby Roto I was asked to play the game and give my feedback. I couldn’t stop laughing as I played it. It was seriously THE MOST fun game I’d ever played. To me it was a sure hit. But, apparently Bally was concerned about the length of the play and asked that Nutting make some ‘minor’ modifications. It quite literally took the magic out of it. So, the game that I thought would be a HUGE hit in the middle of its development became something less than that by the time it was finally released. I know Jay Fenton has made some ROM images available. If he still has a pre-release version, it would be very cool to see if I still feel the same way.

I don’t remember exactly WHY it was so much fun. But, I sure do remember laughing like crazy as I ran Robby through his paces. It was a great game.

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I worked for FSL, and am currently working at the same company with Jeff. He is doing well and is as creative as always.

Sad to hear about John’s and David’s passing.

And while FSL came to an end, it produced many fascinating products during its existence. Including DMX (Digital Music Express) which was a music deliver standard for almost 20 years!

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@Brett: I am sorry I hadn’t responded to this note before now. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a note – the two of you are working together then today on some of our most beloved computers? Awesome. Did you work with any of these, or other former arcade guys at FSL?

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Happy New Year of all our friends in the video game world. We so enjoyed the “Edison” article you posted. All the comments reminded us of the excitement and fun of those days. Thank you all so much.
The best is yet to come!!!!
Jeffrey and Robin Frederiksen

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@Jeffrey: Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I have a true passion for these older games, and love Nutting in particular – I’ve interacted with several of the former employees and have a several page wireframe trying to connect the dots on the history of the company from what little information is online.

Have a great new year, and thanks again for all of your contributions!

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Hi Rotheblog,
I do not have Jeffs Email address. Could you send it
back to me. Thank You David Nutting

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Jeff and I work at Apple. My team did the Mac Mini, and Apple TV products, and the built in iSight. Jeff works on future silicon. Can’t say more than that…

As to working with the arcade guys, yep. Many are still friends to this day…
Back in the day, I wrote a few ‘3rd party’ cartridges for the Bally Home Arcade. (Treasure Cove and ICBM Attack) I thought John Perkin’s Artillery Duel was a very good game for the home arcade.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Hi Readers,
I have written a new book: “Secrets to a Creative Mind”.
Become the Master of Your Mind. In the last chapter-Postface
I tell a little known story: Without the help from the
New Jersey Gaming Commission Micrsoft would not exist.The
operating system for all personal computers would be
Bally Basic.In the early 1980’s Dave Nutting Associates and tthe University of Illinois Computer Science group headed by Tom DeFanti were mobilizing to create the universal operating system for all future personal computers,supported by Bally Mfg and it’s president Bill O’Donnell.We were years ahead of Bill Gates and his people.
check out: http://www.Secretstoacreativemind.com
Dave Nutting

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