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Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Machines.
In order of production - Cleopatra (November 1977), Sinbad, Joker Poker, Dragon, Solar Ride, Count Down, Close Encounters, Charlie’s Angels, Pinball Pool, Totem, Incredible Hulk, Genie, Buck Rogers, Torch, Roller Disco, and Asteroid Annie (December 1980)

Do you have a Gottlieb System 1 Pinball that is not working?
  GOOD NEWS:  It can run again and be bullet proofed!

With the three items listed below any Gottlieb game can be made to be fun and reliable again!

Ni-Wumpf Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Replacement CPU.
Rottendog Gottlieb System 1 Replacement Power Supply.
Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Repair Guide.
Click here for more information on these products.

Brief History of Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Machines.
The Gottlieb System 1 pinball machines are an interesting mixture of both great mechanical design and poor electronics design.   Gottlieb was late getting into the solid state era of pinball machines.  Both Bally and Williams had at least a 2 year head start on designing their own solid state pinball control systems.  Some reports say that Gottlieb did not believe that the solid state digital pinball machines would catch on.  Even if the reason why is not known for sure, what is known is that Gottlieb was late to the solid state party.  When the first solid state Bally pinball games hit the street, they were wildly successful!  Production and sales numbers were much higher than seen in decades.  The trouble for Gottlieb was that once these new solid state games hit the streetl, all of their mechanical pinball games suddenly looked old.  Some say this was the beginning of the end for Gottlieb - they never fully recovered.   The Gottlieb family may have realized this trouble was coming as the company was sold to Columbia Pictures in 1977.  The company made a comeback in the early 80s with Black Hole and some other titles but eventually closed the doors in 1996.

While Bally and Williams designed their first solid state pinball control systems in house, Gottlieb chose to outsource the design.  Gottlieb chose Rockwell International, a large well known controls firm.  Choosing a well established large firm for this work probably was logical at time.  However, history proved that their were several problems with the design.  And while Bally and Williams quickly created new and better revisions of their control systems, Gottlieb was stuck with System 1 and it's problems for far too long.  Maybe this is a business lesson in the dangers of outsourcing your core competency or made it was bad luck!

Major issues with Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Machines.
Very simple architecture:  4 bit system design did not allow the game to be much more complex than an electromechanical game.  Gottlieb did get to remove many mechanical components from the games just as Bally and Williams did.  But Bally and Williams quickly began adding new, never before seen features into their games, while Gottlieb could not.  

Poor Grounding:  The design of the system did not properly ground all the circuit boards together.  This caused intermittent errors that were difficult for the operators to troubleshoot. To make matters worse, these grounding errors sometimes caused CPU controlled coils to lock on, which damaged the coils and compoments on the circuit boards.

Rechargeable Ni-Cad battery:  The battery was mounted to the bottom of the CPU board directly over a critical connector.  This battery would leak and corrode the CPU and the connectors.  Bally and Williams had this issue also.

Use of edge connectors between boards:  The edge connectors used by System 1 had more trouble than the pin connectors used by both Bally and Williams.

Use of custom "spider" chips:  While Bally and Williams used common off the shelf components on their systems,  Rockwell used two specialized custom chips on their CPU board.  These chips were not socketed and very difficult to replace as they were surface mounted to the board.   Bally and Williams designed their boards to be serviceable, while Gottlieb expected the operator to replace the entire board if anything went wrong.  These chips are also fragile and failed often.   Today, this chips are nearly impossible to find.  For awhile it looked like that these obsolete chips were going to doom all System 1 games.  Fortunaley, a new processor has been designed to overcome this problem, the Ni-Wumpf System 1 replacement CPU.

The result of the above problem is that many games broke and/or frustrated the pinball operators.  At the same time, Bally and Williams were releasing more complex games.  This combination caused the operators to start pulling the Gottlieb System 1 games off route and ordering Bally and Williams games instead.

So is there any good news? 
Yes, since many of these games broke early on they can now be found in generally good cosmetic condition.  Many of the Williams and especially the Bally games were played to death and trashed.  The Gottliebs were thrown in the operators warehouses, not working, but in generally good shape.  Finding good shape Gottlieb system 1 games is relatively easy to do and they are priced lower than comparable Bally and Williams games. 

More good news! 
While the Gottlieb system 1 games are electronic disasters they are mechanical bull dogs!  The design of the flippers, pop bumpers, target banks, and other mechanical components are top notch.  The cabinets are very solid.  They are described as tanks.

The Gottlieb system 1 games also have good period artwork and are fun to play.  We have restored a few of these games and they are now rock solid and fun games.