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Random Thoughts & Pictures

I acquired this Williams Millionaire from a pinball friend in November 2016. It was my most painless game transaction to date. He bought the game, did all the work of fixing it up and then passed it on to me for a good price. I changed a few things to suit my own tastes, but there wasn't much for me to do but plug it in and have fun. Trivia: Your 1987 Millionaire status would be worth about $470,000 here in 2016.

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Millionaire cabinet side art.

I was previously familiar with Millionaire given my general interest in Williams System-11 games. But it's not a game I had specifically pursued. As noted above I got this game more from being in the right place at the right time. The game seems to fall toward the bottom end of System-11 desirability. It's considered a low-budget filler game and is the only Williams game by designer Jerry Armstrong. While there's nothing necessarily unique about the game, it includes an eclectic array of features not commonly seen on other pins of the era.

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Millionaire joins the herd.

Perhaps the game's most novel feature is the oscillating breakaway shooter lane (called the Moving Ball Guide) which was first seen a few years earlier on Gottlieb's Volcano. Armstrong claims to have come up with the idea without prior knowledge of Volcano.

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A motor and cam arrangement act on the shooter lane exit guide rail which is attached to the main guide rail by a flexible piece of spring steel.

Another prominent feature is the roulette wheel in the center of the playfield which has had a long history in many older pins. People complain about the disruptive nature of the roulette wheel, but it's no worse than the prize wheels found on other games of the era such as Cyclone. The upper playfield is dominated by an elaborate crossing ball lock arrangement where locked balls are held on the opposite side of the playfield from where they're shot. This is the first game I've owned with outlane gates. An open left gate leads to the left inlane whereas an open right gate leads back to the shooter lane. The game also has a large quantity of stacked playfield plastics for quasi-3D effects.

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Millionaire features a lot of stacked playfield plastics.

Millionaire's translite art is okay in a simplistic cheesy sort of way. It includes transparent highlights that interact with a prism-like reflective material on the insert panel. The combination adds a sparkling effect to the translite art when viewed at varying angles. Maybe it was intended as something of a poor man's mirrored backglass.

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Reflective material on the insert panel.

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Transparent highlights in the translite combine with the reflective material to create a sparkle effect. Still pictures don't do it justice.

Millionaire sound effects borrow heavily from Pin*bot. The sound for maxing out the bonus multiplier is the same. The match sequence sounds are the same. You'll also hear the sound of Pin*bot's visor rising as well as Pin*bot's drop target timer and a few others. On the other hand, Millionaire has what I think is one the catchiest main title tunes of all System-11 games.

There's also an attract mode tutorial sequence similar to Pin*bot.

CAN YOU -- EARN A -- MILLION DOLLARS

The game's previous owner pulled up the playfield Mylar resulting in some art loss. He cleaned it up with a few insert decals and paint touch-ups. I'm not a fan of Mylar removal for just that reason. But it turned out reasonably well. I'd still call this playfield above average. The left plastic ramp has a minor crack that doesn't effect its function. A few plastics have a minor chip or crack and one of the targets is chipped. Otherwise all the playfield elements are intact and clean. This is good because I don't see Millionaire getting love from any of the pinball repro parts companies.

All of the circuit boards have matching serial numbers except for the MPU board which appears to be from an F-14 Tomcat. All the wiring and connectors are clean and hack-free. The player three and four displays briefly show garbled data as the game transitions from one ball to the next. There are no other display errors so I'm not sure what the issue may be.

The game came to me with a few technical improvements. 8 amp slow-blow fuses were added between the transformer and the lamp and solenoid rectifiers. The lack of fuses is seen as a design flaw and the modification is recommended for many early System-11 games. A remote battery pack was added with the battery pack conveniently located inside the coin door.

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8 amp slow-blow fuses.

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Remote battery wiring with connector.

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Remote battery pack by the coin door.

This game must have spent its life in a clean environment. It has the most grunge-free cabinet interior I've seen. Overall this may be the cleanest game I've owned.

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Clean cabinet.

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Promotional key fob for Millionaire.

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Shown above is the two page promotional flyer for Millionaire. Click for larger picture.

According to IPDB, export Millionaires were equipped with a rotating beacon topper similar to High Speed or F-14 Tomcat. I have not seen any explanation as to why this feature was not included on domestic games. The beacon is driven from function 10 on the solenoid driver table. Domestic manuals show a blank space for function 10, but the function does show up during diagnostic procedures. Moreover, the output is driven at various times during game play. In other words the supporting software is still there. This just begs for some sort of interactive topper modification.

The domestic game's only hardware element associated with the beacon is a four-pin connector in the backbox. Two of the wires (wht/blu) supply 24 vac from the transformer, one wire (red) supplies +34v solenoid power and the fourth wire (brn/red) is the control wire from function 10 (transistor Q9). The export's electrical arrangement may closely resemble what's found in an F-14. The physical arrangement of the export's single beacon is probably closer to High Speed.

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Rotary beacon diagnostic display.

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Four-pin beacon connector in the backbox.

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F-14 schematic showing relay, fuse, motor and lamp circuitry. My domestic Millionaire has only the four-pin connector.

Update: I retrofitted my Millionaire with a rotary beacon topper. Go to my Repair and Maintenance Log for construction details.

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My retrofitted Millionaire rotary beacon topper.

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--EXTERNAL LINK-- Click image to view a brief YouTube video of the finished beacon.