Video Game Adventures in the US: Musee Mecanique

While in San Fransisco we stumbled upon one really radical place… The Musee Mecanique at the Fishermans Wharf. This place was breathtakingly awesome. This is what people used to have in the past before the digitalization of amusement games became common during the 70’s.

This is Arcade history, from when all things were mechanical and people were bored as hell. From when there were no TV’s and when every cabinet cost a Dime to a Quarter to interact with.


Do you know Williams? They created famous games such as Defender and Joust, and started out creating Pinball games. They’re still active and have their roots in the 40’s. They’re part of WMS Industries, who traces its roots as far back as 1943 to Williams Manufacturing Company. They’re behind this game where you’re supposed to drive your car and it will measure your reaction time.


Here’s a mechanical game where you’re supposed to ring the bell by hitting with a hammer. I think all of us has tried one of these out at some time of our lives, albeit in a more modern fashion.


Yes, this is how old some of the stuff were in the hall. I think there were not only one, but three, stereoscopic cabinets where you could watch the Earthquake and fire disaster of 1906. I guess the people of past were as drawn in to morbid events as we are today.

That’d basically be what we do when we watch the news.


Classic Arm Wrestling. I love the guy’s mask, he has to be related to Darth Maul in some kind of inconcievable way:


And the guy in the background is mighty ugly. Wrestler Andore, I presume?



A Bimbo-Box. Hah! An assembly of laid-off monkeys playing instruments in a box, most likely enforced by the toxic effects of weed on the primates mind. Are they supposed to be Mexican monkeys or was the cabinet made in the 70’s? I couldn’t say for sure, the clothing style is too ambigous for me to base a statement on.


What’s this!? Let’s put that quarter in and examine…


…the execution of an unfortunate dough figure. Once again a testament to the fascination of the morbid of humans of all times.The amusing part is that the priest to the left says the prayers first, just before the poor Mr. Dough gets his final verdict and his head falls into the basket before him.

Which madman would pay a quarter to see the simulation of a guillotine aided execution?

I did.


Is this supposed to be Santa Claus? He looks delightfully frightening. I’d really watch out and I’d really cry if I’d see this guy climbing down my chimney. In both senses.


Santa’s Little Helper looks horrendous. More like Satans Little Helper. How could anyone find this remotely accurate? I’m not really sure this really is Santa Claus and his Merry crew anymore.


Good Lord, who do we have here? Is this another Helper? Is this the actual Fred Clause, as in the movie with Vince Vaughn? Or is this just a pervert that has infiltrated the Merry crew or something?


This actually was a Retro Santa Claus Work Shop. I’m sorry guys and gals.


Oooh! That sounds taboo! Let’s get excited! Puttin’ in the Dime in the one to the right!


Eh? What’s this? A man surrounded by pictures of showgirls. “To be happy see what every married woman must not avoid”… and then this guy? What’s the big idea? I don’t get it.

The cabinet to the left, labelled “XXX” and so forth, contained a reel where a woman beat the living crap out of a man who tried to massage her shoulders. Then a lady friend enters and sees the whole debacle. Awesome.


And here it is, the oldest machine in the Museum. Some kind of reel that allowed you to watch moving pictures, supposedely the creator made a few of these with different themes and they were fairly popular.


Look out their web page here. But we warned, they also had, as you can see in the home page, Laughing Sally, a mechanic woman who both instilled laughter as well as fear into the children of San Fransisco since she was introduced to them.

Me, I felt both laughter and fear. It was a peculiar sensation and well worth to pay a quarter for.

Images from: and, all images from Musee Mecanique Copyright the Author MartianOddity.

4 thoughts on “Video Game Adventures in the US: Musee Mecanique

  1. About “What a married woman must not avoid”: Either it is a popular culture reference from that time, or it means that they should not avoid womanizers?
    I don’t get it either.

    Regarding the hammer, it is a spring mechanism of sorts. You pull the two levers and it gets harder to pull everytime, as the spring is tightened. Then you press a button and the hammer falls, showing pretty much how far you tightened it. Pretty neat idea.

    If I were a kid, Santa’s Workshop would have given me nightmares for sure and Laughing Sally too to be honest.


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