November 10, 1981: Twin Galaxies opens
Thirty-two years ago today one of the nation’s most recognized arcades opened in Ottumwa, Iowa. The Twin Galaxies arcade was the brainchild of Iowa oil industry employee Walter Day. His love of video games began with Space Invaders and took off from there. While in between jobs, he decided to pursue his new passion, and he opened up an arcade in Ottumwa, hoping it would help him pay the bills while he attended school.
Thankfully for him, Day has fortuitously timing. His choice to open up an arcade occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s heyday of video games – the so-called “Golden Era of Video Games.” Gaming took off like wildfire, and arcades popped up seemingly overnight. What made Twin Galaxies stand out from the rest was Day’s move towards keeping official records of video games scores. Day’s “Twin Galaxies Scoreboard” became the list for video game superstars; and Day became the industry’s scorekeeper.
Did you ever play at Twin Galaxies? What was your favorite hometown arcade? We’d love to see your arcade memories in the comments!