How Space Cadet Pinball Won the Windows Desktop
Publication TitleThe Kernel
Publication DateNovember 8 2015
DescriptionThe pinball table is a bright spectacle: pulsing lights in rich purple and blue, the back glass covered with an amiable-looking cartoon spaceman in a futuristic flying car oddly reminiscent of a Volkswagen Beetle, a cacophony of futuristic pings, bleeps, and zaps. There’s the satisfying thunk of the flippers. The future-synth soundtrack. The laser blips whenever the steel ball rebounds off the bumpers. There’s even a “tilt” sensor for catching cheaters who’d try to bump the table to their own advantage.
It sounds like almost any pinball table, of the type you’d see sitting forlornly neglected at your neighbourhood bar. But there was something different about Space Cadet. It wasn’t a real pinball game, after all; it’s right there in its full and clunkily corporate name: 3D Pinball for Windows–Space Cadet. It was a virtual table designed from scratch by a small, plucky development company to show off the power and accessibility of Microsoft’s most ambitious operating system yet: Windows 95.