Williams Flash Details
‘Flash’ was the first game from any manufacturer to have a dynamic background sound during gameplay. It is also the first game from any manufacturer to use Flash Lamps, which provide a temporary burst of flashing light intended primarily for the sake of its visual effect, in contrast to the usual playfield lamps that either provide constant general illumination or turn on and off only as indicators of specific playfield objectives or their point values. Designer Steve Ritchie comments:
I “invented” background sound at Atari, but management wouldn’t have it, so I asked Randy Pfeiffer to create a continuously cycling complex sound that increased in pitch and speed of cycling, and he did both. That changing background added a tension and excitement that was never present in earlier games. That sound also broadcasted how well the player was doing. If you heard the only game that made a background sound in an arcade at high pitch and a fast cycle, all eyes were on you, sometimes gathering a small crowd in those days.
The production run of this game was far higher than previous Williams games. Steve Ritchie comments:
Towards the end of the run of Flash, I asked Jack Mittel, then-VP of sales, why we wouldn’t try to push past the 20,000 unit mark. He replied, “We want to leave the market wanting.”
Steve also tells us about the prototype backglass shown in this listing:
We printed two backglasses in a blue background because management was scared that the black background wouldn’t be accepted. We also printed two red ones. I owned them all, but both reds and one blue disintegrated as I unwrapped them after being in storage for 34 years. The ink was in a pile at the bottom of the package!
No games were sent out with any color other than black background, which was widely accepted and dramatic when lit “back in the day.”