Joel Hochberg Email Interview

 

Joel Hochberg

( Centuri Inc, Nintendo; Rare Inc)


Email Interview - 13th February 2006

 

 

Jon: I thankyou for getting in touch with me, I am currently researching gaming industry history between 1970 and 1985, in particluar a company called Centuri Inc, previously known as Allied Leisure Industries where I understand you worked at.

 

Joel: Sorry to have taken so long to provide you with the attached but I hope in some way it helps you with the details you are looking for.

 

Jon: My questions are as follows; I understand you worked for Centuri Inc around 1979 / 1980, What year did you start working for them and how were you or by whom were you introduced to the company?

 

Joel: Employed from approx 1976ó1982 and was offered the position by Robert Braun, President

 

Jon: What was your job role at Centuri Inc

 

Joel: I was Vice President

 

Jon: I understand Dave Braun founded Allied with Ron Haliburton, when Ron left who was in charge of Centuri Inc? Did Dave also leave the company?

 

Joel: Allied Leisure Ind. was sold to an investment company and the company name was changed to Centuri Inc. David did not join Centuri, Robert passed away before the investment company made its investment in Allied, Ivan and Leon did join Centuri and they remained with the company for some time.

 

Jon: Nearly all of Centuri's games were licensed from other companies, was Phoenix Centuri's biggest seller? Is this true, and if not which was the biggest selling game while you were there.?

 

Joel: That may have been true for video games but pin ball and mechanical games were in house developments. Phoenix was manufactured 1 or 2 years after my departure and I really donít recall the quantity sold, I do remember that Tennis Tourney was one of the most successful games produced by Allied and Phoenix, was a big seller under the Centuri name. Games were usually licensed after a successful location test was performed.

 

Jon: Personally some of Centuri's games best games were licenced from Konami, What were the benefits of licensing the games this way and who decided on what game would be licensed?

 

Joel: Video development was in limited availability at Centuri, therefore, licensing of video games from Japan, if the company wanted to be in the video business, was essential. Many U.S. game companies embarked on a similar licensing program because Japan was developing so many video concepts.The Phoenix game was also licensed but from a smaller Japanese developer.

 

Jon: Were Ed Miller and Bill Olliges real people or were they conceived for advertising purposes only? If they were real people what did they actually do?

 

Joel: Ed Miller was employed by Taito America before his involvement with Centuri as its President and Bill Olliges was an engineer that provided concept to Taito. They were real but neither had a great impact on the companyís success.

 

Jon:The Artwork for Centuri cabinets was of a similar style, was this created by a artist/designer in house, or were outside agencys used. I have seen artwork produced by a company called Willis. Was this ever official?

 

Joel: Centuri had itís own in house cabinet shop and if I remember correctly, Willis may have been an outside supplier of cabinets or components when and if they were they were required. Itís also possible that Willis did silk screen printing for Allied/Centuri

 

Jon: Do you know how many units were made on the more popular Centuri games, I understand only 500 Aztarac's were ever produced is this true? And what was the least successful game?

 

Joel: I never heard of the game Aztarac and Iím not certain which game was the least successful.

 

Jon: Who else was part of the team while you were at Centuri? and roughly how many employees were there.?

 

Joel: David Braun - Chairman, Robert Braun - Pres., Ivan Rothstein - VP Sales, Leon Braun - VP Engineering, I believe that there were as many as 250 people working in the factory.

 

Jon: Thanks again for your time

 

(Id like to thank Joel for his additional information (not included in this interview) to help me continue my research further. )

 

 

Other Interviews

 

I managed to find a few other people linked to Centuri, and you can view there interviews below.