Q*bert was released in October 1982.
Licensed to Konami for Japanese distribution (February 1983).
Inspired by artwork by M.C. Escher who was an artist that Jeff admired. Ron Waxman came up with the idea of Q*bert changing the color of the cubes. Q*bert's name originated by the combination of 'Cube' and 'Hubert', but the 'Cube-Bert' was changed to 'Q-bert' to make it more unique. The concept game was called 'Snots and Boogers' and then '@!#?@!' (which many of the programmers and Gottlieb VPs said would be impossible to get anyone to say) before the final version was called just 'Q*bert'. Slick and Sam were a play on the phrase 'spick and span' with Sam being named after co-worker Sam Russo. Rick Tighe came up with the idea of adding the pinball hardware which generated the very mechanical KA-CHUNK when Q*bert falls off the pyramid.
A Votrax SC-01 speech synthesis chip is used to generate the incoherent speech of Q*bert swearing, Slick and Sam (high pitch), and Ugg and Wrong Way (low pitch). The only true speech ever generated is Q*bert saying 'Hello, I'm turned on' when the game is first powered up and 'Bye Bye' after the player enters his or her initials at the end of a game.
Approximately 30,000 units were produced by Gottlieb.
Several early cabinets were produced with '@!#?@!' on the marquee.
Bob Gerhardt holds the official records for this game in 'Marathon' setting with 33,273,520 points on November 28, 1983.
Tom Gault holds the official records for this game in 'Tournament' setting with 1,895,565 points.
A slightly different version known as 'Mello Yello' was programmed for promotion of the Mellow-Yellow soft drink, but it was never released to the market.
As well as being a huge commercial success as a game, Q*bert also provided revenue from its many tie-in products. Toys, games, and other products bearing the hero’s likeness all sold well. There was even a Q*bert cartoon; Saturday Supercade was a CBS cartoon series which featured a number of different segments starring various video game characters. In addition to the characters from the game, the Q*Bert segment featured Q*tee (Q*bert's girlfriend), Q*bit (his little brother), and others.
Such was the character's popularity at this time that Gottlieb assigned pinball designer, John Trudeau ("Creature From the Black Lagoon
"), to devise a Q*bert pinball. It was called "Q*bert's Quest" and Trudeau created an innovative design pattern that should have sparked arcade goers to try it. Remarkably, the table was a commercial flop. Released in March 1983, a paltry 884 machines dribbled out of the plant and further convinced management that pinball was indeed experiencing desperate times.
A Q*bert unit appears in the 1983 movie 'Koyaanisqatsi - Life out of Balance'.
Parker Brothers released a board game based on this videogame (same name) in 1983. The object of the game is to be one of the 'noser elite' by removing more pegs from the pyramid than your opponent. A peg plugged into a cube simulates the Starting Color; a peg removed from a cube simulates the Destination Color. One player takes on the role of the hero, Q*bert, who must make his way around the pyramid trying to remove as many pegs as he can. A second player controls the 'nasty' characters out to thwart Q*bert. This board game has Ugg and Wrong Way reversing their positions; Ugg moves from left to right on the left face of the cubes, and Wrong Way moves from right to left on the right face of the cubes. Also, Slick is featured in the board game, but not Sam.
The main characters make an appearance on the 2012 animation movie "Wreck-It Ralph" from Walt Disney Animation Studios.