As I’ve been getting more into arcade games, I’ve been looking for other blogs on the subject. The Arcade Blogger is one of the best that I found, based in the UK and dedicated to the “preservation and history of Classic Arcade Video Games from the 70s and 80s”.
While I recommend you check the site out on your own accord, here’s an excerpt from a post about arcade high score tables:
Although it didn’t provide the capability to enter player’s initials, Taito’s Space Invaders is generally regarded as the first arcade game to display the highest score achieved by previous players (although I’m reliably informed that Midway’s Sea Wolf takes the honours by a couple of years). Star Fire by Exidy and Atari’s Asteroids both took this concept one stage further a couple of years later. By providing a “table” of the top 20 and top 10 high scores respectively, they gave players the ability to enter their initials alongside their scores in a three character format. This added to the competitive nature of video games to come to the fore to gamers of all abilities. But manufacturers had to be careful about letting Joe public loose on CRT screens.
Many manufacturers of arcade games wouldn’t allow their programmers to bask in any sort of publicity. The main reason cited for this was one of competition. Atari didn’t want Williams or Gottlieb to poach their talent, and vice versa – perfectly understandable of course, but programmers were human and wanted to put their names to their game to be immortalised forever. So who is going to notice if you program your own initials within the game’s default high score table?