Like the next man here, I too was as interested in the Polybius legend, as many others. However, after doing much research on the subject, over an
on/off period of four years, I have come to the conclusion that the Polybius legend is a myth. It likely started out as a reaction to some defective
cabinets of Tempest that gave a few epileptic people seizures, coupled with some speculation and rumors. However, some of it is likely based on
partial truth. The supposed company, Sinnesloschen, which doesn't exist, may have come into the legend because of the game Poly-Play, which met a
similar fate, yet still exists - albeit with a very small number of machines remaining. Also, Poly-Play was created in East Germany (specifically, the
German Democratic Republic), by a company that existed during the time that the Soviet Union was still in power - VEB Polytechnik. With the fall of
the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the game cabinets were completely dismantled, and, out of the 1,500 or so cabinets
produced, only a few escaped destruction, and are still around today. Poly-Play is emulated in MAME; however, claims that the game is no longer under
copyright do not seem to be provable at this time, one way or another; it is only generally believed to be in the public domain. The remains of the
company were salvaged after the fall of the Soviet Union, and a new company was created - Polytechnik Frankenberg GmbH, with some speculating that the
copyrights for Poly-Play would have, naturally, gone to them. On this detail, I have no further information; however, there is a rumor going around
that the "PCB" (you'll see why I put it in quotes in a moment) contains the word "Polybius" written on it. Upon visiting a website from an owner of
one of the machines, I noticed that he had posted many photos of it, even from the inside. This includes the PCBs, of which there are not one, but
four, each likely controlling a different aspect of the machine. All of the images are, unfortunately, low-resolution, created back in 2004 or so,
before most people could afford a high-resolution camera; however, the person states that the characters on the PCB chips (and presumably, any writing
on the PCB boards themselves) are all in Russian; therefore, if Polybius is written on any of those PCBs, it would be written as Полибий -
using Cyrillic characters, the character set used for the Russian language. The site for the Poly-Play machine, including said images, can be found
The author states that he no longer has the Poly-Play machine, having needed to sell it, and, after contacting him, I found out that there are no
higher resolution images that he created during the time that he owned it. However, I am in correspondence with him, in order to see if he can
remember anything that looks like the Russian characters above, and if confirmed, this would help greatly in narrowing down the origins of the
Polybius legend. Regarding further connections to Poly-Play, I have no additional information at this time, but will post an update when I receive
more information from him.
Regarding the supposed ROM at the top of this page, I must immediately put this rumor to bed; I have tested it myself, and it is a simple hoax,
nothing more. Before any potential slings and arrows come my way, I will show you how I know this. About four years ago, I went to the same site, and
invested some time and energy into extracting those files, so as to discern their contents. Now, I'm not a hacker; I have very little programming
skills, but after some careful thought, I decided to have a look in MAME's source code. Upon examining the code, I looked under the drivers for
Tempest, and located the CRC32, MD5, and SHA1 hash values for each of the files mentioned in the code, and compared them with the hash values for the
supposed Polybius ROM files. Upon comparing, the values were a perfect match. However, not being satisfied with only this, I also decided to compile
my own build of MAME, and inserted the files, one at a time, pointing them to the polybius.zip in the code, and got an exact match when I ran it.
What's more, the filenames in polybius.zip were exactly identical to the filenames inside the Tempest ROM zips. However, it appears that, in the last
four years, the code for Tempest has changed, including more accurate ROM dumps, and not even the filenames match anymore, much less the hash values.
Fortunately, I have saved all of the evidence, and if further inquiries are requested, I will most definitely upload it for you all, so you can look
into it yourselves.
I leave you with a couple videos on the subject of the myth, which will give you more information.
(Containing, among other things, a follow-up to the Steven Roach interview.)
(Potential connection to Poly-Play)
edit on 14-6-2012 by ayjanu because: Word repeated too closely to the first occurance (grammar oversight)
14-6-2012 by ayjanu because: Words repeated too closely to the first occurances (grammar oversight)