The first arcade games popularized in the past were amusement park midway games like ball toss games, shooting galleries, and coin-operated machines. The amusement parks launched in the midways of the 1920 era provided the idea, inspiration, and atmosphere of the arcade games we have today.
The earliest pinball machines operated by coins became popular in the 1930s. These devices were different from their electronic cousins because they did not have lit-up bonus surfaces or plungers on the game field, and they used mechanical scoring readouts. Around 1977, most game machines switched to using electronics for both scoring and operation.
First coin operated Video Arcade Machine
In 1971, Stanford University students set up Galaxy Game, a Spacewar computer game operated with coins. This is the very first coin-operated video game in the history. Also in 1971, Nolan Bushnell mass manufactured such kind of game in the form of Computer Space, for the company Nutting Associates.
In 1972, Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell established the company Atari. Atari became very successful in their introduction of the coin-operated video game Pong, the smash hit ping pong electronic video game. While Pong had becomes so popular, imitations prevented Atari from dominating the coin-operated video game market.
Video and arcade game machine sprang up in major shopping malls and small gaming machines touted as corner arcades appeared in grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters and bars all over the U.S. and other countries from late 70s to early 80s. Games including Space Invaders, Galaxian, Pac-Man, Battlezone, and Donkey Kong were very popular during this period.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, fast food chains such as Ground Round, Chuck E. Cheeses, Gattis Pizza, and Dave and Busters combined the traditional bar and/or restaurant environment with arcades by putting a small space for an arcade game machine.