Supply of old-fashioned CRT arcade monitors dries up

The last manufacturer of arcade-sized cathode ray tubes is out of the business, with one supplier having only 30 or so in stock and no chance of ordering more. The manufacturing process is difficult enough that it's unlikely anyone will step into the breach; Venturebeat's Jeff Grubb reports that times will be good for skilled repairers.

“I have a feeling that — y’know how there are those guys doing pinball repair on the side — there will probably be some guy you can send your monitor to and have him rewind the bulb,” says Ware. “I think it’s going to be really expensive.” A CRT tube is very heavy, so shipping costs alone would be costly. “Right now, I don’t know of anyone who does [the winding].”

To fill the void, Day suggests that new companies will emerge to reproduce those old machines using only modern-day technology. An LCD screen connected to a PC running a piece of software that approximates the original experience will be adequate for most people.

CRT emulation is amazing, but still obviously such to me. But I bet using curved OLED panels embedded in thick CRT-style glass would fool my eye in darkness. There's yer Kickstarter.

Notable Replies

  1. But I bet using curved OLED panels embedded in thick CRT-style glass would fool my eye in darkness.

    or rear projection onto curved frosted glass? - seems like that would be easier

  2. In other news, hernia surgeries expected to decline in coming years.

  3. They mention this in a previous Tested video where they were assembling a custom arcade cabinet. Any CRT will not do because, similar to today, not all displays were created equally. There's an array of different technologies and the ones that are best suited for arcade machines account for a very small percentage of CRTs

  4. This article is wrong.

    I'm a well-known and respected member of the classic arcade collecting community, and I repair these games, their circuit boards, and monitors full time. There is no shortage, and BoingBoing is perpetuating false information by posting this piece, which has appeared elsewhere.

    I don't know where this author gets his info, but he's clearly misinformed. While new arcade monitors are no longer made, there are still plenty of spares around, in old warehouses, other games, used parts retailers, and people's personal collections. Also, there is no shortage of substitute tubes, from old TV's, many of which are compatible with arcade monitors, and there are literally millions of them still in existence.

    Sorry Rob, but this article is misinformation.

  5. The tone of the post (as well as the VB article it references) implies that there is or will be a shortage of arcade CRTs, which is the point of it being a story. The headline itself says 'supply dries up', and the tone of both pieces is implying that finding and using true CRTs for classic arcade games is somehow going to be problematic, which is simply not the case. It's clickbait.

    Wells-Gardner, the last primary manufacturer of arcade CRT's stopped production years ago. So there is no new information there. And it hasn't affected the classic arcade community, as we have been using and rebuilding original monitors for years, because they are cheap and prevalent. The supplier referenced in the VB article (Dream Arcades) is simply a cheap repro game builder and retailer, not a CRT manufacturer, so the number of new CRTs they have on their shelves is irrelevant. There are many other sources for new old stock (NOS) monitors, many, many sources for used ones, and many, many, many sources for used parts with which to build and/or repair and refurbish old monitors.

    The VB article that BB linked to, and the piece following it, are simply a marketing piece that is trying to push modern display tech, and was likely sponsored by Qualcomm. The first piece starts out by trying to create a problem (dwindling CRT supply), then the second proposes a solution (VR tech). But the premise of the first piece is flawed because the author was lazy, and is factually untrue. ("We’re looking at a situation where playing Donkey Kong in the way that its creator intended is reserved only for the most dedicated collector. It will be prohibitively expensive to recreate that experience.", he says). That's very poorly disguised FUD.

    It isn't prohibitively expensive. A rebuilt arcade monitor can be had for $150-200, which is significantly less than what they used to cost new, and it will be a very long time before the millions of existing CRTs are used up by a community of a few thousand collectors (unless each of those collectors somehow suddenly needs thousands of monitors each).

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