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Atari Coin Executive – the 1982 answer to managing a video game arcade

Powered by an Atari 800. Plus, a handheld 6507 computer. And it was even open source. Seriously.

1982 was a big year for Atari video arcades — with the release of such classics as Gravatar, Millipede, and Space Duel (complimenting the already massive number of popular Atari games filling video game arcades).

In order to make the management (and, primarily, the accounting) of video game arcades easier — and more future-y — Atari developed and released the “Atari Coin Executive”.

And it is incredibly cool.

Atari Coin Executive

The central brain of the Atari Coin Executive was an Atari 800 computer (with 48k of RAM) with a number of accessories, including:

  • 2 x Atari 810 Disk Drives
  • An Atari 850 Interface Module (which added RS232)
  • An Atari 825 printer
  • An Amdek 13-inch color monitor

Atari Coin Executive was an Atari 800 computer (with 48k of RAM)

How the Atari Coin Executive worked was both simple… and incredibly cool.

The ACE Data Recorder and Coin Monitor

The basic process:

  1. A “Coin Monitor” was installed in the coin slot of every arcade game.
  2. Each Coin Monitor is connected back to the Atari Coin Executive workstation (that Atari 800) via “telephone type wiring”.
  3. The arcade manager can then use that Atari 800 to see how much each game is earning.

Coin Executive main menu

Fun fact: The Atari Coin Executive software… was open source and written in a combination of BASIC and Assembly. Or, as Atari put it in 1982: “In Basic and 6502 Assembler – Source listings and manual supplied”

You can find images of the Atari Coin Executive software over on the AtariAge Forum.

In addition to the above-mentioned setup, the Atari Coin Executive also included a handheld computer called the “Data Recorder”.

Atari Coin Executive also included a handheld computer called the “Data Recorder”.

The “Atari Coin Executive Data Recorder” was powered by a MOS 6507 CPU with 16K of RAM (8 2k chips), and communicated with the Atari Coin Executive computer via 300 baud serial. It even had a small built-in printer.

This allowed people to manage several arcades, in separate locations, by:

  1. Plugging the Data Recorder into each arcade machine equipped with a Coin Monitor.
  2. Then taking the Data Recorder back to the Coin Executive computer and downloading the data into the Coin Executive software.

Finally, here’s a color picture of the whole setup — including the custom desk which was used for the Coin Executive. Fern not included.

Custom desk which was used for the Coin Executive.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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