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Stern (game company)

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Stern (game company)

Stern is the name of two different but related arcade gaming companies: Stern Electronics, Inc. and Stern Pinball, Inc.


  • Stern Electronics, Inc. 1
  • Stern Pinball, Inc. 2
  • Notable pinball machines 3
    • Stern Electronics 3.1
    • Stern Pinball 3.2
  • Notable arcade games manufactured by Stern 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Stern Electronics, Inc.

Stern Electronics was formed when the Stern family bought the financially troubled Chicago Coin in 1977. Chicago Coin's assets were purchased at bankruptcy sales forming the core inventory of Stern Electronics, Inc., however as a separate company, they did not assume any of the debt Chicago Coin had amassed.

The first two games made by Stern were Stampede and Rawhide, both originally made by Chicago Coin, which only had changes made to their branding and logos. After a weak start, Stern Electronics' sales started picking up by the end of 1977. By 1978 they had switched over to fully solid state electronics for their games. Although not as successful as rivals Williams and Bally (Gottlieb had been purchased in 1977 by Columbia Pictures but was still a formidable competitor as well), Stern managed to produce its share of moderately successful pinballs as well. Also, in 1979, Stern acquired jukebox maker Seeburg Corporation, and the company became known as Stern / Seeburg. Coincidentally, Seeburg also owned Williams in the 1960s, when Sam Stern was its president.

When arcade video games became popular in 1980, Stern produced Berzerk. No other video game it made was ever as popular as Berzerk, however, and in 1983 Stern became one of many victims of the amusement industry economic shakeout that occurred. In 1985, Stern Electronics left the amusement industry. Personnel from Stern Electronics formed a short-lived venture known as Pinstar, producing conversion kits for old Bally and Stern machines. Gary Stern was the president of Stern Electronics, Inc, Pinstar Inc, and Data East pinball.

Stern Pinball, Inc.

By 1999, the pinball industry was virtually dead and Williams, once the dominant leader in a healthy industry, stopped manufacturing pinball machines and focused on gambling devices as WMS Gaming. During the same year, Sega left the pinball industry and sold its pinball division, previously purchased from Data East in 1994, to Gary Stern, the son of Sam Stern. Gary Stern, who had been running Data East/Sega pinball since 1986, founded Stern Pinball, Inc. that same year. [1] Stern Pinball, Inc. is based in Melrose Park, Illinois.

Several Williams alumni, like pinball designers George Gomez are currently designing games for Stern Pinball, alongside longtime Data East/Sega Pinball designer John Borg.

Notable pinball machines

Stern Electronics

  • Stingray (1977)
  • Pinball (1977)
  • Stars (1978)
  • Memory Lane (1978)
  • Lectronamo (1978)
  • Nugent (1978)
  • Dracula (1979)
  • Trident (1979) - a nautical themed game based on the mythological take on the three pointed spear; a "seagod"-like character is depicted in the artwork fighting an octopus like monster of the deep. Stern produced 4019 of these machines.
  • Hot Hand (1979)
  • Magic (1979)
  • Cosmic Princess (1979) (Produced in Australia by Leisure and Allied Industries under license from Stern Electronics Inc)[2]}{[3]}
  • Meteor (1979) (Highest production of all Stern Electronics' Pinballs)
  • Galaxy (1980)
  • Ali (1980)
  • Big Game (1980) (First game to incorporate seven-digit scoring in the digital era)[4]
  • Seawitch (1980)
  • Cheetah (1980)
  • Quicksilver (1980)
  • Star Gazer (1980)
  • Flight 2000 (1980)
  • Nine Ball (1980)
  • Free Fall (1981)
  • Lightning (1981)
  • Split Second (1981)
  • Catacomb (1981)
  • Viper (1981)
  • Dragonfist (1982)
  • Iron Maiden (1982) (Unrelated to the British heavy metal band)
  • Orbitor 1 (1982) (Featured a 3d-vacuum formed playfield with spinning rubber bumpers causing frenetic ball action; it was the company's last released game)
  • Cue (1982) (Six units released)
  • Lazer Lord (1984) (Never went into productions)

Stern Pinball

  • Harley Davidson (1999; 2nd revision 2002; 3rd edition 2004 slightly updated of the Sega game)
  • Striker Xtreme (2000)
  • Sharkey's Shootout (2000)
  • High Roller Casino (2001)
  • film seriesAustin Powers)
  • Monopoly (2001) produced by Pat Lawlor Design (PLD), based on the game Monopoly and rumoured to originally be planned for the Pinball 2000 platform)
  • NFL (2001) (basically a modification of Striker Xtreme)
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon (2002) produced by PLD)
  • Playboy (2002, originally planned for the Pinball 2000 platform, prototype exists)
  • The Simpsons Pinball Party (2003)
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) produced by Steve Ritchie Productions [SRP])
  • The Lord of the Rings (2003)
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not (2004, produced by PLD, based on the series Ripley's Believe It or Not)
  • Elvis (2004) produced by Steve Ritchie Productions (SRP)
  • The Sopranos (2005, based on the series The Sopranos)
  • NASCAR (Grand Prix in Europe) (2005; produced by PLD)
  • Dale Jr (600-unit limited edition, based on the NASCAR game with new Dale Earnhardt, Jr, #8 art package)
  • World Poker Tour (2006) produced by SRP
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (2006) (based on the movie Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • Family Guy (2007; produced by PLD)
  • Spider-Man (2007; produced by SRP, based on the Spider-Man films)
  • Black Suited Spider-Man (Limited edition version of Spider-Man game with new art package, mirrored backglass, webbed chrome side armor and shaker motor)
  • Wheel of Fortune (2007) (based on the TV show Wheel of Fortune)
  • Shrek (2008) (based on all three movies; produced by PLD; modified version of Family Guy)
  • Indiana Jones (2008) (based on all four movies)
  • Batman (2008) (based on the films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight)[5]
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008; produced by PLD, based on the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)[6]
  • 24 (2009; produced by SRP, based on the TV show 24)[7]
  • NBA (2009) Lonnie Ropp, Gary Stern (designers) Based on the older Sega pinball Space Jam
  • The Lord of the Rings Limited Edition (Dec. 2009) gold mirrored backglass, shaker motor, gold package.
  • Big Buck Hunter (2010) John Borg (designer)
  • [8]
  • [9]
  • AVATAR Limited Edition (250 units) James Cameron's (2010) Shaker motor, Chrome trim, white powerball, additional code, moving AMP suit feet, motorized transporter pod lid, and additional figures added.[10]
  • Rolling Stones (2011) [11]
  • Rolling Stones Limited Edition (350 units) Includes a real screened backglass, white powerball, shaker motor, 2 under playfield magnets, up-post and 2 outer post ball savers activated by 2 additional flipper buttons.
  • [12]
  • TRON Limited Edition (400 units) Chrome trim, Color changing fiber optic light tubes that run on both ramps, additional code, moving recognizer toy, and 4-bank drop targets instead of stand ups.[13]
  • Transformers 2011 George Gomez (designer)[14][15]
  • Transformers Limited Edition (500 units combo edition) Includes a shaker motor and additional features, added Megatron drop target and firing cannon, upper Ironhide mini playfield, moving Starscream moving platform as well as powder coated crimson and violet trim and legs.
  • Transformers Limited Edition (125 units Decepticon version) All the same features as the combo except an exclusive art translite and all violet trim.
  • Transformers Limited Edition (125 units Autobots version) All the same features as the combo except an exclusive art translite and all crimson trim.
  • AC/DC (2012) Steve Ritchie (designer) [16]
  • AC/DC Premium A full featured design geared toward the enthusiast with all the features that the designer intended [17]
  • AC/DC Limited Edition Back In Black (300 units) Same features as the Premium but with added shaker motor, a larger 12" subwoofer, as well as a distinctive cabinet art package with black/chrome trim and legs, and exclusive real screened backglass.
  • AC/DC Limited Edition Let There Be Rock (200 units) Same features as the premium but with added shaker motor, an exclusive real screened backglass art, a larger 12" subwoofer and red/yellow trim and legs.
  • [18]
  • X-Men Limited Edition Wolverine (300 units) Same features as the Pro with these additional features, real screened dedicated backglass, 2 added pop up targets, moving iceman ramp, added spinning disc/magnet. Blue powdercoated trim.
  • X-Men Limited Edition Magneto (250 units) Same features as the Pro with these additional features, real screened dedicated backglass, 2 added pop up targets, moving iceman ramp, added spinning disc/magnet. Red powdercoated trim.
  • Avengers (2012) George Gomez (designer)
  • Avengers Blue LE (250 units)
  • Avengers Green Hulk LE (250 units)
  • Metallica (2013) John Borg (designer) Dirty Donny art.
  • Metallica Premium Hammer smash toy with disappearing ball to under playfield coffin lock, Moving grave marker cross, inline 3-bank drop targets, Ball-eating snake mouth animated, "Sparky" figurine animated on an electric chair.
  • Metallica Master of Puppets LE (500 units) Platinum trim, screened backglass, John Borg's signature under hard coat.[19]
  • Star Trek (2013) Steve Ritchie (designer) First Pro debut with all LED lighting as standard.
  • Star Trek Premium
  • Star Trek LE (799 units) [20]
  • Mustang (2014) John Trudeau (designer)
  • Mustang Premium
  • Mustang LE
  • The Walking Dead (2014) John Borg (designer)
  • The Walking Dead LE (600 units)
  • The Walking Dead Premium
  • Wrestlemania
  • Wrestlemania LE
  • Kiss
  • Game of Thrones

Notable arcade games manufactured by Stern

  • Astro Invader (1980)[21]
  • Berzerk (1980)[21]
  • Amidar (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Scramble (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Super Cobra (1981) (programmed by Konami)
  • Turtles (1981)[21]
  • Anteater (1982) (Developed by Stern but released by Tago Electronics)
  • Bagman (Le Bagnard) (1982) (programmed by Valadon Automation)
  • Frenzy (1982)[21]
  • Lost Tomb (1982)
  • Pooyan (1982)[21] (programmed by Konami)
  • Rescue (1982)[21][22]
  • Tutankham (1982) (programmed by Konami)
  • Minefield (1983)[21]
  • Cliff Hanger (1983)[21] (laserdisc game using video footage from TMS)
  • Super Bagman (1984)[21] (programmed by Valadon Automation)


  1. ^ Davey, Monica (2008-04-25). "For a Pinball Survivor, the Game Isn’t Over". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sales flyer issued by manufacturer
  5. ^ Pinball webpage.BatmanStern Pinball's Official Retrieved on 18 July 2008.
  6. ^ Pinball webpage.CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationStern Pinball's Official Retrieved on 8 November 2008.
  7. ^ Pinball webpage.24Stern Pinball's Official Retrieved on 22 March 2009
  8. ^ "Enada Coin-op Trade Show 2010". TILT.IT. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Stern's new Avatar game. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  10. ^ Stern's new Avatar Limited game. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  11. ^ "The Rolling Stones". Pinball News. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  12. ^ "Tron: Legacy". Pinball News. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  13. ^ "TRON Limited Edition". Pinball News. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  14. ^ "Transformers Pinball Coming Soon". Pinball News. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Transformers". Pinball News. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ [3]
  19. ^ "Metallica Master of Puppets LE". Stern. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  20. ^ [4]
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  22. ^ Sharpe, Roger C. (June 1983). "Insert Coin Here". Electronc Games. p. 92. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 

External links

  • . official websiteStern Pinball, Inc
  • Stern Pinball, Inc. at the Arcade Museum website
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