Retro-gaming pundits frequently refer to the "Great Video Game Crash of '83." But rarely do they mention the "Great Video Game Frenzy of '79" - the furious wind-up that propelled us deliriously through the heyday of '80-'83, and made the prospect of a "crash" a possibility in the first place.
In 1979, the shorthand word arcade changed its meaning from "pinball arcade" to "video arcade" as operators swapped their assortment of coin-eaters from majority pin to majority video. The affordable microprocessor began to change coin-op gaming dramatically.
Take a quick look at the field of game releases in the late 70's. As flocks of new developers and players entered the arena for a piece of the action, many uninspired copies emerged as new developers got their footing. But some innovative standouts foretold the sensation to come. Amidst the generic gunslinger games and near identical driving clones you'll see a few inspired standouts that led to the defining classics of the early 80's: Berzerk, PacMan, Galaga, etc.