Tron was released in May 1982.
When Bally/Midway signed a deal to create a Tron video game, they were very pressed for time and needed a game quickly. They decided to let all 3 of their design teams (their in-house team, Dave Nutting Associates, and Arcade Engineering) take a crack at a prototype. The Dave Nutting Associates team (led by Dave Armstrong) proposed a 3-D color vector game that was deemed too complex and expensive, thought it was later developed into a prototype called "Earth, Friend, Mission". The internal team eventually won the right to produce the game. The initial design document called for 6 different mini-games :
1) Rings (a light-disk duel between Tron and Sark).
2) Paranoia (in which the player builds a bridge of spiders to reach an island).
3) Tank Pursuit
4) Space Spores
5) I/O Tower (the player tries to reach an energy socket while avoiding electrifying blue warriors)
6) Light Cycles.
Fearing that they would never get the game out in time, the Rings game was made into a separate game and the Paranoia and I/O Tower game was dropped (though the MCP Cone sequence was later added). At one point the film included deadly spores that were included in the game's Grid Bug sequence, but when they were removed from the movie, they had to be removed from the game as well.
To promote the game, Bally/Midway and Alladin's Castle sponsored a seven-week-long tournament at over 400 locations throughout the country, as well as a celebrity tournament.
Most of the levels correspond to a computer language. Of course, some literary license was used for the level names and a couple of them don't really make sense. Anyway, here are the 11 level names and what they are :
ALGOL : Algorithmic Language. Influenced the development of more modern language (along with FORTRAN and LISP). Used for number crunching.
ASSEMBLY : Machine language. Used to write code directly to the computer without having to compile or interpret it.
BASIC : Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Used primarily for teaching rudimentary programming.
COBOL : Common Business Oriented Language. Used primarily for accounting. Very old language.
FORTRAN : Formula Translator. Used for processing numbers and/or formulas.
JCL : Job Control Language. Used on IBM mainframes to execute specific jobs and scripts on the Job Entry Subsystem.
OS : Precursor language to OS2.
PASCAL : Teaching language for compiled languages. Not very powerful.
PL1 : A play on the actual language called PLI. Language used for solving mathematical problems.
RPG : Report Program Generator. Use for generating reports. Usually used with COBOL.
SNOBOL : Used for character string manipulation.
Walt Disney Productions sued Williams Electronics for copyright and patent infringement over Williams' use of the name 'tron' in their arcade legend, "Robotron - 2084
". Common sense prevailed, however, and Williams won the suit.
The game's sequel, "Discs of Tron" was originally intended to be a part of the original game but tight time constraints meant that the mini-game was not completed in time.
A Tron unit appears in the 1983 movie, 'War Games', in the 1986 movie 'The Color of Money' and in the 1987 movie, 'Death Wish 4 - The Crackdown'.