ABOUT

The Kiss-a-Scope “love tester” machine was manufactured sometime in the 1970s by Urban Industries Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky and brought back to life (and improved?) by Jordan Bowden and James Schidlowsky in 2018 for operation at the North Star machines à piastres bar in Montreal, Canada.

Here is some information about the machine as well as its manufacturer, pieced together from various sources.


The Machine

The original Kiss-A-Scope product one-sheet flyer, as well as the artwork claims that it is "computerized", yet the circuit board uses pretty standard components like transistors and a few 555 timer chips (an extremely popular IC chip, introduced in 1972), which hardly qualifies it as being a computer.

Original Kiss-a-Scope circuit board

Nor is it "completely electronic" as claimed. Some of the work to animate the lights was handled by a bizarre stepper-motor driven multi-pole, multi-deck switch thing, and a couple of thermal "snap action" flashers like one would find running the turn signals on old cars. These are electro-mechanical items, not solid state.

Original Kiss-a-Scope lamp panel (rear view)

When the machine was acquired, it barely worked, and then only intermittently. Despite the claim that it produced sound, there was no speaker. To modernize the light animation, add some simple audio and a thermal receipt/readout printer, the new brain is an Arduino Mega 2560 with a couple of custom/hand-made driver boards, as well as off-the-shelf modules for audio amplification and a real-time clock. This allowed for a more elaborate and varied light show animation both during game play and "attract" mode.

New lamp panel (rear view)


The Manufacturer

uii-logo.jpg

As far as could be gleaned, Urban Industries Inc. existed from the early 1960s to sometime in the late 1970s. The "Urban" in the name is actually a surname, and two of them, Frank and Robert Urban were involved in management and/or product design. It appears that the company's main business in the 60s was manufacturing coin-operated Peek-a-Rama and Kiddie Kolor Kartoon 8mm film clip viewers.

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It might be hard to imagine now, but the adult-oriented / peep-show movie viewer business was serious money back in those days, enough for pornographer/millionaire/FBI Most Wanted Listee Michael Thevis ("the Scarface of Sex") to have Urban Industries' factory set on fire in 1970 in an attempt to put them out of business and corner the market for his own company, Cine-matics.

OTHER MACHINES

Urban Industries survived the fire and continued making movie machines soon after. They also manufactured several coin-operated games during the 1970s like Touch-N-Glo, Visual Response Analyzer, Simon Says, Horoscope, Personality Tester and the Sex Tester. These machines appear to be rare nowadays, as one can mostly only seem to find the one-sheet flyers for sale on ebay, not the machines themselves...

 

Bibliographic/Information sources

Information on the web was pretty scarce, but the following sources were unearthed…

  • Billboard magazine, Vol. 74, No. 22 (Jun 2, 1962).

  • Rome News-Tribune newspaper, Dec. 17, 1979 (Rome, Georgia).

  • Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video, by Peter Alilunas (Univ of California Press, 2016).

  • The Scarface of Sex: The Millionaire Playboy Who Murdered His Way to the Top of Porn, web article by Jeff Maysh (The Daily Beast, 2017).

  • Urban Industry Inc. product flyers and photos found on ebay (thank you sellers).