The Rockwell PPS-4 Microprocessor - The Pinball Wizard - 10660, Mil-Spec Version


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About this Artwork:

Introduced in 1972, like the Intel 4004, the PPS-4 (Parallel Processing System-4) was just a 4-bit microprocessor. The PPS-4 was just the third microprocessor created. Gottlieb worked with Rockwell to develop the System 1 CPU board, which was based on the 199 KHz PPS-4/2. Gottlieb used this board in its solid-state pinball machines from 1977 to 1980. Rockwell also used four of its other "spider" chips as part of the System 1 chipset. The game program was stored on a ROM chip on the CPU board. Gottlieb's first microprocessor-based pinball game was Cleopatra. It was quickly followed with other games such as Sinbad, Dragon, Charlie's Angels, Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers. There were 16 in all. These were first family of gaming machines to successfully use a common microprocessor and system board.

The PPS-4 is unique among the early microprocessors in terms of packaging. This is one of the neatest looking chip packages ever created. It looks like a spider because of its many thin alternating legs. This type is called a QUIP (Quad Inline Package). The QUIP package has alternating leads to reduce package size. While the 4004 was bottlenecked with 16 leads, the PPS-4 had 42 leads. The PPS-4 chip technology was metal-gate versus the 4004’s silicon-gate. Although using a slower technology, the PPS-4 implemented a higher degree of parallelism than the Intel 4004. Its performance was comparable to the Intel 4004, according to the 4004’s designer Federico Faggin. The chip included on the front of this artwork is the same version of the PPS-4 that controlled the Gottlieb’s pinball machines. I placed it in the CPU location on the board. This chip is rare because it was never used and is new-old-stock.

This work came about as I was shooting the microprocessor board from a Gottlieb Dragon pinball machine. The circuit board’s wires, which are called traces, were on both sides. On the front, the traces ran horizontally, on the back they ran vertically. I noticed that the plastic resin of the board was so thin that by backlighting the board I could see both sets of traces. I combined this backlit photo with a straight-on shot and got the result you see. This silhouette process created a dark design, offset by gold, red, blue, purple and turquoise highlights. I wanted to catch the feeling of mystery and imagination of the Dragon pinball game.


The artwork is framed in an 11"x 14" black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.

Please note:  The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.