History of audio boards

Carte son

Evolution of sound cards

We present here a chronological inventory of different sound cards used on the SYSTEM 1, 80, 80A and 80B.

These boards have undergone many changes over time and there are many variations, of which some were used in video games.

3-tone "555"

It is the very first electronic board used to sound a GOTTLIEB pinball machine, replacing the electro-mechanical xylophone.

It simply consists of three NE555-based oscillators, generating three different frequencies for scores 10, 100 and 1000. Each oscillator is directly controlled by the equivalent output of the coils of the xylophone (by grounding).

3-tone '555'

The 3-tone "555" is used in the SYSTEM 1 pinball machines:

  • Dragon (#419)
  • Solar Ride (#421)
  • Count-Down (#422)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (#424)
  • Charlie's Angels (#425)
  • Pinball Pool (#427)

C-19389 "multimodes"

First audio board equipped with a microprocessor (6503) at GOTTLIEB.

It is easily recognizable thanks to its large diamond-shaped radiator. As the board is not supplied with 5 Volts, it must manufacture it from the AC supply.

C-19389 'multimodes'

The C-19389 "multimodes" is used in the SYSTEM 1 pinball machines:

  • Totem (#429) - ROM "J"
  • The Incredible Hulk (#433) - ROM "K"
  • Genie (#435) - ROM "L"
  • Buck Rogers (#437) - ROM "N"
  • Torch (#438) - ROM "P"
  • Roller Disco (#440) - ROM "R"
  • Asteroid Annie and the Aliens (#442) - ROM "S"


It is the base used in the first SYSTEM 80. It is derived from the SYSTEM 1 multi-mode board which it architecture based on 6503 (CPU) and 6530 (RRIOT).


The MA-55 is used in the SYSTEM 80 pinball machines:

  • Panthera (#652)
  • Spiderman (#653)
  • Circus (#654)
  • CounterForce (#656)
  • StarRace (#657)
  • James Bond 007 (#658)
  • Time Line (#659)
  • Force II (#661)
  • Pink Panther (#664)

Next produced pinballs will be equipped with advanced board MA-216 (see below). However, for reasons of cost and for stocks, the MA-55 will be re-used later for some pinball machines, mainly in "export" versions:

  • Volcano (#667) "export" version
  • Black Hole (#668) "export" version
  • Devil's Dare (#670) "export" version
  • Eclipse (#671)
This board was the subject of a comprehensive study.


New architecture based on 6502 (CPU) and 6532 (RIOT) for this adapter that is used in the latest models of the 80 series. Appearance of speech synthesis, achieved by a VOTRAX SC-01 (phonem synthesis) circuit and use of a LM379S amplifier powered 30 volts.

A prototype version was first made but never reached the production stage. Implementation of the components of this board is completely different from the models of series that will follow. Although the architecture appears to be almost identical, but there is a difference because the EPROM of the prototype will not work on boards of production. No pinball was equipped with this card, "samples" versions of Mars received standards boards.

MA-216 prototype MA-216 prototype

Thanks to Jean-René Karr for the pictures.

The MA-216 series is subject of many modifications and adaptations. It knows the existence of at least 3 versions of printed circuits (B-20887-x) in addition to the prototype, the firsts with various bugs.


The MA-216 is used in the SYSTEM 80 pinball machines:

  • Mars (#666)
  • Volcano (#667) US version US and prototype of "export" version
  • Black Hole (#668) US version
  • Haunted House (#669) // without SC-01

The board is then renewed on the SYSTEM 80A:

  • Devil's Dare (#670) US version
  • Rocky (#672)
  • Spirit (#673) // without SC-01
  • Punk (#674) // without SC-01
  • Striker (#675)
  • Krull (#676) // without SC-01
  • Q*Bert's Quest (#677)
  • Goin'Nuts (#682) // without SC-01
  • Caveman (#PV810)

For economic reasons, SC-01 (U14) not was implemented on the Haunted House, the Spirit, The Punk!, the Krull and the Goin'Nuts. These pinballs have therefore no voice synthesis, although the card has the complete circuitry.

The MA-216 will be also used in the video game Reactor (#GV100) and Q*Bert (#GV103).

MA-309 and MA-484

To reduce costs, the speech synthesis is abandoned and a first version treated of the MA-216 is produced. It's the MA-309 which has no more SC-01 nor the command circuitry. The board always uses the same printed circuit B-20887 and the LM379S amplifier powered 30 volts.

A second version following shortly after with the replacement of the amplifier by a TDA 2002 powered by 16 Volt. It is the birth of MA-484 with the amplifier now mounted on an additional card called MA-483. Two other versions also having this additional card will follow. It is the MA-486 and 487-MA, used only for video games on the last, the DIP switches will be even no more solded.

These ultimate developments of the MA-216 concern very few models.

MA-309 MA-487

The MA-309 is used in the SYSTEM 80A pinballs:

  • Super Orbit (#680)
  • Royal Flush Deluxe (#681) first models
  • Amazon Hunt (#684) first models

The MA-484 was known to have been used in the latest models of the Royal Flush Deluxe (#681A) and for the video game Mad Planets (#GV102). The MA-486 was used on the latest models of the game Q*Bert (#GV103) and MA-487 on video game Krull (#GV105).


For even more savings, MA-216 and derived boards will be replaced by a "new" board. The MA-490 associated with a "piggyback" MA-488 map is no more, or less, than a MA-55 barely improved !!! The additional card Piggyback (MA-488) adds an additional EPROM and takes the place of the 6530 (RRIOT).


The MA-490 board will be used on all other models of the 80A series:

  • Amazon Hunt (#684) latest models
  • Rack'Em Up (#685)
  • Ready... Aim... Fire! (#686)
  • Jacks to Open (#687)
  • Touchdown (#688)
  • Alien Star (#689)
  • The Games (#691)
  • El Dorado City of Gold (#692)
  • Ice Fever (#695)

It will also be used on the first SYSTEM 80B:

  • Bounty Hunter (#694)
  • Chicago Triple Play (#696)
  • Tag Team Pinball (#698)


For the purposes of video games, a more powerful card is necessary. A new card is designed as early as 1983 and received this time two 6502 CPU. The generation of sounds is entrusted by two AY-3-8913, and voice by a SPO 250. The pre-amplification is done by an LM324 while amplification is now entrusted to an external card. The audio output is separated from all other signals that use them, a-pin connector.


This map was never used in pinballs and will only be used in video games such as MACH 3 (#GV109) or Three Stooges (#GV113).


A few changes of printed circuit board and the return to a flat connector are sufficient to transform the MA-495 in a MA-766. An option to not install the voice circuit SPO 250 is planned, although this appears to never have been the case. This new card will equip the future SYSTEM 80B products.

The associated alim/amplifier board is referenced MA-767.
It uses a LM2002 and also has a flat connector:

The MA-766 board will be used on the SYSTEM 80B:

  • Rock (#697)
  • Raven (#702)
  • Hollywood Heat (#703)
  • Rock Encore (#704)
  • Genesis (#705)
  • Spring Break (#706)
  • Gold Wings (#707)
  • Monte Carlo (#708)
  • Arena (#709)


From the Victory, the board evolve and get back its pin connector. Again, to reduce costs, the SPO 250 speech synthesis circuit is removed. As a first step, the amplifier card associated with is the MA-767, unchanged with its flat connector.


The MA-886 board will be used on the SYSTEM 80B:

  • Victory (#710)
  • Diamond Lady (#711)
  • TX Sector (#712)
  • Robo-War (#714)
  • Excalibur (#715)

Excalibur (#715) receives a new card amplifier MA-1017. Absolutely identical to the MA-767, the only difference is that it has a-pin connector:


This card will be then replaced by MA-1366 on the SYSTEM 3. Absolutely identical except for resistance R8 1 KΩ 2 W, which is replaced by a 330 Ω 1/2 W in order to limit the temperature rise of the map.


On the latest SYSTEM 80B (and the SYSTEM 3 that will follow), the board still undergoes changes. The two AY-3-8913 disappear and an additional card MA-1033 is added, with a Yamaha YM2151 circuit, a DAC3014 and an LM324. These cards are stamped MA 886-xxx where xxx is the model of the pinball. All use the amplifier MA-1017 board (or MA-1366 on SYSTEM 3).

MA-886-xxx MA-1033

The MA-886-xxx board will be used on the SYSTEM 80B:

  • Big House (#713)
  • Bad Girls (#717)
  • Hot Shot (#718)
  • Bone Buster (#719)
  • Night Moves (#C101)

Bone Buster is equipped with two sound cards, one is simplified (MA-886-719A). On this map, the second CPU 6502 is removed and all the associated circuitry.


The additional MA-1033 board will be also produced under reference MA-1294.


Last update of this page: November 14th, 2021

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