Williams Electronics is an American manufacturing company once famous for their arcade Pinball
and Video Game
machines. The company was started in 1943 by famed pinball engineer Harry Williams
as a manufacturer of novelty machines and pinball tables. Though the company fared well in The Fifties
and The Sixties
, Williams rode the transition to solid-state to become the world leader in pinballs for over twenty years.
Williams' earliest games were a fortune-telling game called Select-A-Scope,
a shooting game called Periscope,
a flipper pinball game. Their games were modest successes through The Sixties
, though Gottlieb
dominated the pinball industry. Their first video game was Paddle-Ball
, a forgettable copy of Atari
. They struck gold with their second original game, a space-shooter by Eugene Jarvis
. Williams soon followed that with Joust, Stargate, Sinistar,
and Robotron: 2084
, building a reputation for no-holds-barred action titles. At the same time, their pinball division transferred over to solid-state electronic pinball machines with great success; through the eighties, Williams released numerous innovative pinball games, such as Firepower, Black Knight, Comet, Pin*Bot,
and F-14 Tomcat
Although arcade gaming declined in the mid-80s, Williams remained viable due to the strength of their releases. As WMS Industries, the company went public in 1987, and acquired competitor Bally/Midway
a year later. For the next ten years, the company used the Midway label for video games, while it continued to manufacture pinball machines under the Williams and Bally brands.
In 1991, Williams entered the gambling and video lottery markets, a field which rapidly overshadowed their pinball and video gaming divisions. In 1998, shareholder pressure led Williams to spin off the arcade division as Midway Games
. Their pinball business hung on a little longer, until the lackluster sales of Star Wars Episode I prompted the closure of the pinball division.
Today, as WMS Industries, the company deals exclusively in online gambling and manufacturing slot machines. Pinball enthusiasts and video gamers, however, will long remember them for their arcade machines.
Pinball machines released as Williams include:
Pinball machines released as Bally include:
Video games published by Williams Electronics: