Tetris is one of the most well-known video games in history for two reasons. The first is obvious: it’s wildly fun and addictive. The second reason is because it has been released on just about every video game console, operating system, cell phone, and smart toaster since its release on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989 launched it into stratospheric popularity. Over the years Tetris has been updated to fit all generations of graphics, but YouTuber Sinowin has created what is probably the coolest version using a flip-disc display.
Flip-disc displays are electromechanical devices that were commonplace in the ’60s and ’70s. A typical flip-disc display is made up of hundreds of small discs aligned in a grid. Each disc is capable of flipping, and one side is painted black while the other is painted in a bright, highly-visible color. The discs are usually flipped using a combination of permanent magnets and solenoids. Flip-disc displays were most commonly used in applications where information needed to be quickly updated, such as for airport schedules and stock market price listings. Today, they have been replaced by more practical displays like LCD screens, but they still look very cool.
Sinowin doesn’t provide much detail on the exact display they’re using or how it’s operated — just that it utilizes a DIY controller. However they built it, the results are impressive. The flip-disc display is used to show the standard Tetris game screen, and the game is controlled by a small joystick attached to the DIY controller. Surprisingly, the flip-disc display is able to update quickly enough to make the game entirely playable, and the sound of the discs flipping just makes it all the more satisfying.