David Hamilton

Arcade History – First memories would be boot hill / Tank around ’77 at the tender age of 9.  From there my next memories would be Space Invaders, Crash, Breakout and  in the local swimming baths, 78-79 and moving on to bigger and more colourful things like Gorf and finally Defender.  Like many kids at the time, every spare penny I had went in to feeding the addictions that existed in practically every cafe, chip shop or local corner shop.  My interest probably waned a little as the machines became harder to find.  Favorite games would be Defender, Star Wars and Bomb Jack at that time.
We had 1 local arcade, but as it was 16+ I never really got through those hallowed doors till I was approaching that age.  Small place with only 8-10 cabs, but it was its own little community from Thursday/Friday night and Saturday all day.  It probably closed around  ’88/’89 and by then my “fix” had been reduced to Rainbow Islands on the Amiga 1200.
Reasons for Interest – From the first minute I heard that regular beat of the Invaders advancing down the screen I was hooked.  The never ending challenge to better my score (and beat everyone elses) kept me at it time after time.  I was also privileged to be in the company of the legendary Harry (HRY), a guy whose scores were still evident on the hi-score tables in Blackpool’s arcades a year after he put them up there !  Even today I still make that pointless trudge through the bandits and redemption machines in Blackpool’s arcades every time I am down there looking for even 1 old school cab to play – to no avail.
Fast forward to the early 1990’s and there was very little left to play anywhere. 
Around this time I took it upon myself to try and track down my favourite game – Defender.  No luck, as the owner of the only one in the wild I knew of steadfastly refused to sell (as he still does to this day !).  Tried a few operators, the closest I got was “sorry, we sold two last month, leave me your number”.  At that point I returned to my trusty Amiga and Civilisation.  I later found Williams Arcade Classics on the old PS1 and then found myself hooked on Robotron.  The Williams addiction had begun.
2010, and I still was aching to own my very own Defender.  In the Interim I picked up a couple of BAS Jamma cabs (Big ass heavy monsters with 26″ tubes) with the intentions of making a Vertical and a horizontal mame cab.  That got as far as 1 working horizontal mame cab (but with a 26″ screen, Vertical games looked close enough to the original 19″ tubes).  On one of the searches on google for my grail, Defender I came across a Stargate for sale on the UKVAC forum (Guddler was the kind gent who sold it on).  Whilst it was not strictly Defender, it was close enough to interest me so I grabbed it with both hands.  Next to fall was Robotron – This came from John Bud, the cab had just returned from its second Play Expo outing, but it spent the next 11 months of its life in the garage of one of the Scottish Pinheads (John Higgins).  Then out of the blue a Defender came available.  Imported from the US, with a nice shiny NOS tube I had to have it.  By this time the bug had bitten hard, next to be added was Centipede, much to the dismay of my girlfriend, the dining room had become a little mini arcade.
Just when I thought I was happy with my lot, we got wind of a former operator selling a couple of cabs.  4 days later we had cleared out some 20 Electrocoin Jamma cabs, around 14 boxes of mainly bootleg PCB’s which are still untouched (if ever you need a missile command PCB I still have 11 of them left untested) and various bezels, CPO’s, buttons and sticks and flyers.  The worst part was seeing around 20 tubes of varying sizes necked by some idiots for the copper coils.   My garage at this point now held some 20 cabs jammed in Tetris style.  Most of these were offloaded at cost as non working projects, but no sooner did I get room to move in my garage did I take another 6 Jamma cabs on impulse.  What a mistake that was, as they then lay in my garage for another 9 months, with barely enough room to get to the gas boiler.  Garage eventually got emptied (with the help of a 20 foot container on my drive) to start work on the games room, which is now mostly complete.  The garage is home to Defender, Robotron, Stargate, Centipede, Joust project, Star Wars project, small Jamma cab and a little Williams Streets Defender project.
In the last few years I have gradually come to realise that my main interest in gaming are the adrenaline bursting games that were so prevalent in the early 1980’s.  In particular the classics of Defender , Robotron, Stargate  as well as Centipede and the classic Star Wars.  I have tried to re-kindle my love for later games, but I do not find them intense enough for me.
Projects –
The only interesting thing at present about my projects is that they are there.  Time is my biggest enemy, as I work away from home most of the year and when I do get home there seems never to be any time to even contemplate working on them.  I have an untried Star Wars upright in rough condition that has lain untouched for a year, a (complete) Euro Joust that had been part Jamma wired to put right and the latest one acquired was a Williams Streets Defender cocktail.  This one looks to have a complete set of fried boards, and needs a new glass top – It will be a challenge trying to get the glittery paint reproduced but at least there is a failed test pattern on the tube.  Sinistar project is incoming from Germany within the next month, as is a Defender cocktail.  I am happy with my lot now so far as games go, although I would not say no to cocktail versions of the Williams games as listed and I would give my left leg for a cabaret Robotron or Stargate – anyone can help ?  My only other (planned) project is to scratch build a Tehkan World Cup – I have all the parts except the cabinet.
Community Involvement. 
Like many Europeans, whilst I do hop on to the forums KLOV regularly and BYOAC occasionally but these are mostly US centred platforms.  Most of my community involvement is on the forums UKVAC and Jamma+.  I am by no means a seasoned poster or tech-head, but I do like to offer an opinion or help where it is relevant.  I do however offer out cabs to any event that requires them.  I have supplied cabs to Play Expo (Europe’s biggest retro event) for the last 2 years and will do so again this year in October.  Two new events this year that deserve mentions are Revival and NERG.  The organisers had gone to a lot of time and effort to get these events up and running and the least I could do was lend them my support in the only way I could which was by loaning cabs.  One of my biggest disappointments are the hordes of “collectors” who resolutely refuse to let their pride and joy out for a weekend trip to see their long lost arcade cousins.  So far as I am concerned my cabs are available for any event that wants them.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing a 40-something’s face light up when they get to play on their favourite game after a gap of 20 years without seeing it !  Also the reactions of their childrens who look to have a whale of a time playing a game that runs hardware only a fraction as powerful as that in their smartphones.
Future plans – 
I would love to be able to exhibit at events the complete family of Defender, Robotron & Stargate in their various guises – cocktail cabaret and upright.  I fear that the cabarets will remain unavailable to me this side of the pond.  Sinistar & Joust uprights I hope to have up and running by Easter next year just in time for the first of the seasons shows.
People I mentioned on Facebook:
John Bud – Lives fairly local to me (25 miles).  My first interaction with john was over a Defender cab that was advertised on J+, as it was his old cab.  I finally met him on a tech meet where he was amongst other things fitting a new tube to his Robotron which was later became mine.  As usual this event ended in fixing the Robotron, semi-fixing his Defender before degrading into a drink fueled Robotron and Pinball evening.  I travel to events with JB whenever I am going, and he is probably one of the best known faces in the UK arcade scene for his likeable easy going personality and his love for getting drunk and talking crap as do most Scotsmen.
James Brindle – James appeared on the UK arcade scene around the same time as I did.  First meeting was at an charity event in the (now defunct) Arcade Barn in Essex.  I had travelled down there knowing no-one in person being new to the scene, as was James at this point.  As his collection began to grow, he attained the nick-name “The Hoover” for his neverending thirst for Goliath’s every time they came up.  He was dismissed at the time as yet another newbie to the hobby who will buy loads of cabs and disappear after 9 months.  3 years later he is as much involved as ever – loaning 20+ cabs to Play Expo last year, as well as a similar amount to Revival and NERG.  In each of these 3 cases his entire collection was shipped from his top floor apartment to the event and back.  James great love is for the Electrocoin Goliath type cabs that were the most common Jamma cab in the UK through the 80’s-90s.  As James’ collection grew from those first few cabs he filled his top floor apartment with them, to such an extent that he rented the apartment next door when it became available to house his collection of 48 cabs and 4 pinballs. click here for his event last weekend – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrBtk0DDL2g
Martin Deem – From the south coast of England, Martin is one fo the best gamers I have ever come across in person.  On of those guys who just seems to be literally good at every game he plays.  Has been off the radar for about 18 months, but I do hope he can make it to Play Expo next month.  Martins aim was to get a working Return of the Jedi as he knew he could better the WR at the time.  Martin won the Hi-Score event last year at the Lass O’Gowrie in Manchester, besting 50 entrants to come a clear first.  This was played across 10 classic titles.     
Human Interest
Favourite Game – Defender
Proudest Gaming – 20 Million + on Bomb Jack before walking away
Family – 2 daughters, Louise (19) and Emma (13).  Louise I think does not know what all the fuss is about whilst Emma is at that magical age where she has an interest in anything.  My long suffering partner of the last 20 years is Audrey, how / why she puts up with my “junk” I will never know.
Occupation – Commissioning Supervisor / Electrical Supervisor in the Oil and Gas Industry.  Currently desert based in Iraq.
Hobbies – No time for any as such outwith of my arcade addiction, family and holidays
Education – Degree Electrical / Electronic Engineering from Strathclyde university
Games Owned – Working games are 4 classic Woodies in Defender, Robotron, Stargate, Centipede (plus Defender and Joust cocktails that are to be delivered next time I am home), 6 project classics in Star Wars (Upright & Cockpit), Joust, Streets Defender cocktail.  Also a Williams Defender cocktail and Sinistar upright as well as another 10 project Jammas in storage I never got round to either moving on or repairing.  Guess I have become the typical arcade hoarder that every one of us vowed we would never become. 
World Records – none, never got round to even trying.
Goals in Gaming – The usual one to constantly better my scores, but above all to have fun.
Goals in Life – Much to the chagrin of my partner, my main goal in life is for me and my family to wake up every morning.  Every day that happens is a blessing to me.
Most Memorable moment as a gamer – The moment when i finally gained the ability to complete the tunnel run in Star Wars.  I had been chasing my friends score for months.


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