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JPM, my view from the inside. Frank Bird.


Frank Bird
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On 10/7/2021 at 9:23 PM, Road Runner said:


JPM would have been no different to most companies that is sold by the original founding members.The new owners want a quick return on the investment along with bringing  their own people in which more than not upsets the apple cart(staff get pissed off and leave or are pushed out the door).

As said before I have seen this a few times and usually more than 50% of staff are gone within 2 years.

Yes for sure, myself included. PCP was a bit different in that once The Peter Simper Organisation was broken up PCP was sold to Electrocoin who nominally still own it today as a trademark and accounts byline (that's a story in itself). The breakup/sale happened (as I understand it - also a story in itself) because Simper reached retirement having cruised the main company into the '80s having not made a serious plan to go from electro to MPU, so at that point 'sideline offshoot' PCP which had always worked with converting MPU era machines suddenly looked the most dynamic part of the company.

But there are some similarities. Having escaped the draconian but roomy 'old mill' premises (now luxury flats natch) it was sadly only a short time for PCP in the purpose built, riverside industrial estate setting (Brassmill) before money worries moved them back into another, cheaper, far less salubrious 'old mill', this time set atop a culverted stream rather than the river! Damp? All year round. And from that point onwards the only way was down. I was recruited as a 'junior electronics design tech' and a UK clubber was planned, the first ever PCP front opener, the first UK machine in ten years. It never happened.

Edited by Sir Dunelm Mill QVC
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Of course as well as the progress made in gaming machine technology by the manufacturers themselves there were also huge developments in the components that were purchased to go in them.

One of the more obvious products to receive such progress was the coin acceptor.

Traditionally the coin acceptor was a metal mechanism dedicated to measuring the circumference, width and solidity of a coin.

It also had a small magnet to detect Ferrous fakes.

One of the new players in the marketplace was Mars, I believe an American company, that introduced their Injection molded Mars mechanism, or Mech.

Obviously it was in their interest to make sure the technicians from the various manufacturers could repair or recognise problems with their product.

So 40 years ago I was invited to Mars in Winnersh triangle in Reading for an introduction to the product.

What I saw there blew my mind.

Although JPM by this time were ensconced in a new building and the materials we used were modern, we still employed the more traditional manufacturing procedures of stores stock holding, stock issue, and handling and transportation of materials to the staff.

Not at Mars.

If you asked the store's manager at Mars exactly where a component was in the stores, he didn't know.

If you were to ask him to get a component he couldn't. No Bin cards here!

The stock holding area was a series of racks, and these were, as I recall some 20 or perhaps even 30 ft high, around 2 ft wide each, with perhaps a 3 foot gap between them and around 100 feet long.

Negotiating and populating this area were a series of  computer-controlled robotic stock controllers, a sort of very small telescopic forklift on rails.

As stock arrived it was entered into the computer and then loaded onto plastic bins designed to fit perfectly within the racks. Not all components in the same bin, it really didn't matter because the computer knew where they were.

Once the stock was loaded the  computer decided where a suitable space was and took it to its destination, not necessarily next to similar items that we're still in stock.

Similarly to issue stock you simply typed in what you wanted and the controller would go off and bring you your item, after which you would update the quantity and send the remainder back.

It didn't stop there.

Buried beneath the carpet tiles around the workshops were metal tapes and these formed a route that branched off to individual workspaces.

Stock for an individual worker was loaded onto to a battery powered flatbed truck the size of a pallet truck with a flashing light and sensors all around.

The guy loading the truck would choose a destination press the button and off would go this little truck, quite slowly, less than walking pace, and often in convoy with other similar trucks. Once at their destination they would politely chirp to be unloaded and once commanded to return, they made their way back to the stores. 

There were other aspects of modern technology their regarding staff access and time keeping etc, but honestly I don't remember them, however the store and stock control stuck in my mind and I thought you guys might be interested.

Don't forget this was 40 years ago!

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Good stuff frank.

 

They seemed way ahead of their time.

 

While talking Mars Mechs it sounds like you are entering my personal favorite era of the JPM machines(the Fruit Snappa,Frog It and Road Runner era)1983 - 1986.

You will know different Frank but i believe Fruit Snappa was the first JPM machine to use the MS100(20p,50p and £1)mech and i remember going in a local pub in 1983 and they had just installed a FS had the new multi coin mech with the orange reject button.

 

 

Personally for me the machines below had the best cabinet of any other JPM machine before or after.

 

4xjpm.thumb.jpg.82c8ae02b793a7111c92aa0b2a66f2f0.jpg

 

 

Edited by Road Runner
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4 hours ago, Road Runner said:

Good stuff frank.

 

They seemed way ahead of their time.

 

While talking Mars Mechs it sounds like you are entering my personal favorite era of the JPM machines(the Fruit Snappa,Frog It and Road Runner era)1983 - 1986.

You will know different Frank but i believe Fruit Snappa was the first JPM machine to use the MS100(20p,50p and £1)mech and i remember going in a local pub in 1983 and they had just installed a FS had the new multi coin mech with the orange reject button.

 

 

Personally for me the machines below had the best cabinet of any other JPM machine before or after.

 

4xjpm.thumb.jpg.82c8ae02b793a7111c92aa0b2a66f2f0.jpg

 

 

Your knowledge of the machines astounds me, I was so busy with the maintenance of or the development of the 'product' that I hardly bothered with the games themselves. It was the introduction of new components and the control of change that I was involved with at the time or perhaps in fact the start of the Project Management of the SWP departure?  

In 1982 I had my 30th birthday which was a blast and will be in a story soon and I know I was managing the development team (not software) having been transferred from Customer Service to take that problem area.

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4 hours ago, Frank Bird said:

Your knowledge of the machines astounds me, I was so busy with the maintenance of or the development of the 'product' that I hardly bothered with the games themselves. It was the introduction of new components and the control of change that I was involved with at the time or perhaps in fact the start of the Project Management of the SWP departure?  

In 1982 I had my 30th birthday which was a blast and will be in a story soon and I know I was managing the development team (not software) having been transferred from Customer Service to take that problem area.

Thanks for the compliment frank but I am just one of many on here with a decent knowledge of various machines(it’s just that JPM was my favourite brand so to speak).

when you get the the project management of the SWP you will have myself and dave’s(cannonman)full attention.

 

just a note I left high school in 1982(time has flown for all of us)😀

Edited by Road Runner
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Great read and another interesting chapter .like Alan (roadrunner) says this for me is the most interesting era of jpm for me as well .if i can ask a couple of questions which ive often wondered about. Was the development of club machines since electro development kept separate to the awp side ?obviously they were designed for a different market and had higher jackpots and played quite differently to awp .also why did jpm choose not to include a nudge feature on any of its mpu  based club machines during the late 70s and throughout the 80s ?was it perhaps to avoid paying carfield fees ?

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7 hours ago, sulzerned said:

Great read and another interesting chapter .like Alan (roadrunner) says this for me is the most interesting era of jpm for me as well .if i can ask a couple of questions which ive often wondered about. Was the development of club machines since electro development kept separate to the awp side ?obviously they were designed for a different market and had higher jackpots and played quite differently to awp .also why did jpm choose not to include a nudge feature on any of its mpu  based club machines during the late 70s and throughout the 80s ?was it perhaps to avoid paying carfield fees ?

Good questions, no club and AWP went through the same dev teams there were no segregation there, and a for the nudge question....hmmmm. I don't have an answer but I know a man who will and this gives me a reason to speak to him!

Watch this space.

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21 hours ago, Frank Bird said:

Good questions, no club and AWP went through the same dev teams there were no segregation there, and a for the nudge question....hmmmm. I don't have an answer but I know a man who will and this gives me a reason to speak to him!

Watch this space.

Just to clarify, I meant that it was all the jpm  80s club machine s that had a nudge feature" excluded "from gameplay 

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1 hour ago, sulzerned said:

Just to clarify, I meant that it was all the jpm  80s club machine s that had a nudge feature" excluded "from gameplay 

Well, I didn't get the chance to speak to 'the man' but he did answer my text. It seems that current thought at that time was that club machines were "more like a serious gambling machine than an amusement product" and so it wasn't included.

If I remember correctly to add weight to the thought, we did have an arcade on the board walk in Atlantic City where we tried to put product into the states. They had nudge included but we had to remove them because the average American punter at that time couldn't deal with the concept and we had floor walkers trying to explain!

As well as all that the team were very busy with constantly kicking out new games for the AWP market which demanded a new game every 8 weeks.

Club machines tended to have a longer life.

So in answer to your question I am afraid I don't really know! 

I know that early 82 I was put in charge of the Development team (not software or graphics) just the hard stuff, BOM's and the pricing, and it was during that period that the SWP came about.   More of that later.

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That’s a question i was going to ask about the development side(well several)😀

 

who where the people in the graphics team?

who where the people in the electronics(PCB)development team?

who where the people in the software team?

who where the people responsible for cab design?

who where the people responsible for game design?
 

Sorry for the barrage of questions frank but it’s nice to have a few names that put together more than half my fruit machine collection.

 

i am referring to the 1978-1986 era(from the SRU,System 80,MPS and that ‘Give Us A Break’quiz machine video board)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Road Runner
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On 10/13/2021 at 4:52 PM, Frank Bird said:

 

If I remember correctly to add weight to the thought, we did have an arcade on the board walk in Atlantic City where we tried to put product into the states. They had nudge included but we had to remove them because the average American punter at that time couldn't deal with the concept and we had floor walkers trying to explain!

 

just to let you know frank, i believe some of those machines are now back in the uk some to mention :

bar 7s

silver ghost

clickety click

and a couple of blackjack or poker type video machines ..... 

 

 

I believe they paid these tokens out too 

 

 

IMG_20211013_215155.jpg

IMG_20211013_215203.jpg

blackjack.jpg

usaghost.jpg

Edited by riche100
Added blackjack machine picture
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On 10/13/2021 at 9:47 PM, riche100 said:

just to let you know frank, i believe some of those machines are now back in the uk some to mention :

bar 7s

silver ghost

clickety click

and a couple of blackjack or poker type video machines ..... 

I believe they paid these tokens out too 

 

 

IMG_20211013_215155.jpg

IMG_20211013_215203.jpg

Oh my god, I have just had the little grey cells motivated at the mention of "a couple of blackjack or poker type video machines" I remember driving around France changing memory cards on Video Roulette machines. That will be in a future post which will now be a little bigger  ....

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2 hours ago, Frank Bird said:

Oh my god, I have just had the little grey cells motivated at the mention of "a couple of blackjack or poker type video machines" I remember driving around France changing memory cards on Video Roulette machines. That will be in a future post which will now be a little bigger  ....

 

do you mean these jpm roulette machines  frank ?  , but obviously in francs ? 

i cant wait to hear your future content 

flyer1553.jpg

flyer1554.jpg

Edited by riche100
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10 hours ago, CanonMan said:

Blimey, never seen one of those before. 

I wonder if it's the same hardware as Give Us A Break?


was thinking the same or at least a version of it (GUAB hardware has no connectors or ports for memory cards).

Edited by Road Runner
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16 minutes ago, Road Runner said:


was thinking the same or at least a version of it (GUAB hardware has no connectors or ports for memory cards).

Only the slot for the security card or whatever they called it.

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You guys continue to astound me, to me it was  job, a career, to you it is something else. I have to admit that your knowledge far exceeds mine. I just have memories to you it's something else altogether...

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14 hours ago, Frank Bird said:

You guys continue to astound me, to me it was  job, a career, to you it is something else. I have to admit that your knowledge far exceeds mine. I just have memories to you it's something else altogether...

 

Don't forget Frank that you worked in the amusement industry in its golden age(late 70s and through 80s) along with the Arcades there was the computer and video game market flourishing at the same time and watching the tech grow over those years always a fascination of mine.

Most on here would have been playing the machines you(and others) created back in the day(pubs,clubs,arcades) and when we all started reliving our youth 15-20 years ago by collecting and resorting machines and joining forums like this along with other like minded people we all learned off each other.

To have an ex employee of JPM to come on here and share all those stories about how it all came together is for me as interesting(if not more)than the working of the machines themselves.

 

Keep posting those memory's Frank they are a compulsive read.

 

 I think i speak for everyone on this forum.

 

 

 

Edited by Road Runner
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