Edit: Given the many different versions of the game Pong, which version allowed you to accumulate the highest score before the game would crash, reset, or otherwise not just give you one more point?

Original post...

This screen capture made me think what the highest achievable PONG score really was? That is, on any system, what is the highest countable/displayable score before the counter would overflow and either wrap or crash the system? enter image description here


  • This screen capture is not exactly Photoshopped, but it is fictional: it's from the Pixar/Disney movie "WALL·E". Here's a YouTube clip of the scene I took the capture from.
  • Why the close votes? Is it not allowed to ask about "any/all" Pong systems?
  • 3
    Not sure if that's a screen capture at all. But even when ignoring this obvious Photoshop result, for a serious answer, it would need to be narrowed down to what kind of pong on what system, as there where many different and as well different rules (And none I've ever seen allows an 8000:0 score at all)
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 21:28
  • "what kind of pong on what system" For instance, the first video game we had as kids was a Videomaster Olympic which would "overflow" when you ran out of dimples... image (taken from Grant's vintage TV game (pong) collection).
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 8:16
  • @Raffzahn see my edit: it's not (really) a Photoshop.
    – KlaymenDK
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 9:57
  • 1
    @Tommy: Indeed, the game we had (which, on reflection, wasn't the same as the image I linked, but similar) had approx. 10"x8" of fairly closely packed (for the 70s) 74xx series ICs + a TV modulator. Certainly no processor and as far as I could tell, no RAM.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 12:41
  • 2
    @KlaymenDK I have a hard time to the value of arguing what kind of product the picture is, as it's a made up anyway, not a genuine one. It is in no way based in reality nor does it prove anything. Thus it is, at best, distracting from the question not helpful nor making a point. If you want to ask a serious question, it's always best to remove all bells and whistles and narrow it down to what you want to know. That way it can as well be helpful to others.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


The original Pong® brand arcade machine used a BCD counter for each player along with an extra flip flop for tens. The machine would end the game at either 11 or 15 points (operator-selectable) but if that were bypassed it could count up to 19. The General Instruments chip used in the vast majority of electronic tennis machines would play up to 15 points. When the original machine was created, there was a common off-the-shelf chip to convert a 4-bit binary number 0-9 into a seven-segment pattern, but the segment patterns for inputs 1010-1111 weren't useful digits. There were no common chips that would display those values as a repeat of digits 0-9. Since the GI was a custom chip, however, there was no difficulty having a 4x8 ROM which could convert four-bit scores into segment patterns for the numbers 0-15 directly.

I would expect that many microprocessor-based versions of the game would have kept the score as two BCD digits, which would allow values up to 99. I am unaware of any having made any provision for scores beyond 99, and doubt that any would have been designed in a way that could do so without explicit provision.

BTW, in the original machine, the BCD-to-segment chip is used twice for each player to generate tens and ones digits, but when showing the tens position the bottom bit is forced high while the upper three bits are set to the inverted state of the tens bit. Since the BCD-to-segment chip doesn't activate any segments for an input value of 1111, the effect is that the tens digit is 1111 (blank) until a player scores ten points, and then 0001 after that.

  • Thank you for your positive contribution, it's quite interesting!
    – KlaymenDK
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 16:38

There are many versions of Pong.

  • The Arcade version seems to be limited to scores <20, as suggested by this image.
  • One version on the site of Grant's vintage TV game (pong) collection shows a game where score is tracked by placing a marker on a physical board, and there are 15 positions.

Please edit this answer to add more games (and preferably sorted by maximum score capability)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .