Fax was an old arcade game released by Exidy way back in 1983.

The story

Fax was one of the first arcade trivia games. Paving the way for the abundance of bartop trivia games available today.

The game

This game has a simple four button interface (A, B, C, and D), and explains itself quite well when you start the game. You begin by selecting a category (General Knowledge, Sports, History or Entertainment). I would recommend selecting the "General Knowledge" or "History" categories, as the "Entertainment" and "Sports" categories have a lot of questions about 1970s era things, that many people will have probably forgotten by now (or will simply not know the answer to in the case of younger players).

The game asks the questions in a multiple choice fashion, and a point clock ticks down while you think about your answer. So answering quickly scores more points. Every few questions you will be presented with an animation of a little man climbing a series of ladders (this represents your advancement within the game). Each category has 1200 different questions, so they do not repeat themselves very often.

The Machine

Fax came in what was essentially a jukebox cabinet (with a black and woodgrain finish). This was probably because Exidy had hoped to sell this machine to a different market than its normal arcade games. It has a 9-inch monitor mounted in the center (with a "Fax" logo on the monitor bezel), and a row of buttons on each side of the screen. Sales of this title were limited a bit by its $2495 price tag (USD), which was a good $500 over the average arcade game price at the time.

This title used an advanced (proprietary), compression algorithm to hold nearly 5000 questions in a tiny amount of EPROM space (roughly 128K, which was still a huge amount of storage in 1983, which was why this game was so expensive). Exidy also sold several EPROM replacement kits that provided new questions, but they sold very poorly, and are nearly impossible to find today.

This title is compatible with Targ and a Fax PCB will work in a Targ cabinet with no modifications. (You could also put Targ in a Fax cabinet, but it wouldn't really be playable due to the lack of joystick on a Fax cabinet).

Where to play

MAME supports this title perfectly, although it takes nearly 3 minutes to boot (press F10 to speed this up). Truthfully this would be a rather silly game to bother playing on your computer (as there are plenty of modern freeware trivia programs). But it is a good title to leave running on your MAME Cabinet (you do have a MAME Cabinet, don't you?), as even non-gamers can enjoy this one.

You may want to consider adding this to your arcade game collection, but only if the price is right. Be aware that it uses a 9-inch monitor, and replacements are tough to find used (although you can still buy new ones, but a new one would cost more than the game). The Fax cabinet will not accept a standard (common) 19" arcade monitor (there is not enough room between the player controls), but the standard (semi-common) 13" arcade monitor will fit, but you would have to construct a new monitor bezel.