Not all parts are created equal (or equally, either).
Although parts having the same part number made by different manufacturers were theoretically interchangeable, it didn't always turn out that way.
Sometimes a part made by one manufacturer exceeded the common industry specification and, since it worked in the Prototype, the engineer might not realize he had under-designed the circuit and that parts made by other manufacturers wouldn't work.
In some cases, as in capacitors, the actual construction of the parts can make a big difference in whether it works in the circuit. This was especially true in the Analog Vector Generator. There are characteristics like capacitance tolerance and how the capacitance varies with temperature that can also make a big difference in how much the part costs.
The Plastic DIP ICs made by Texas Instruments were slightly shorter on one end, which allowed them to be stacked lengthwise on 0.1" centers. The ICs made by other manufacturers were standard length and needed more space.
And sometimes, parts made by some manufacturers were simply junk.
The Purchasing Department had to know which parts they could buy.
And Engineers, who were encouraged to use standard parts having multiple sources, had to know which parts they could count on using. (We could always use new parts, even sole-sourced parts, but it was discouraged.)
The Approved Vendor List existed in order to bring some kind of order out of the chaos that would have otherwise resulted.
During my time at Atari/Atari Coin-Op we always had at least one Engineer who was a specialist in evaluating components. Usually we had an entire Components Group who also worked with the Design Engineers, Purchasing, and Manufacturing.
The AVL was part of the Manufacturing Database needed to make the games.
When I joined Atari in 1979, our AVL (as well as Consumer's) lived on the IBM Mainframe in Corporate Headquarters at 1265 Borregas and was maintained by the Corporate IT Priesthood. We had a thin client (i.e., a dumb terminal) for accessing the database.
After Atari went Supernova and the Tramiels ended up with most of the company except for us (Coin-Op) we had a problem because we were no longer part of the company on whose computer our AVL lived.
We ended up porting it to a VAX that was purchased for that purpose along with various licensed database software.
This software was not especially easy to use, so I kept a local copy of some of the AVL in my own VAX directory.
The manuals for the games list the AVL number of the parts and maybe a little more information. It assumes that someone needing more information would get it from the AVL, even if they had to call Atari Customer Service.
Now that Atari Coin-op has faded away into the mists of history, this is no longer an option.
Therefore, I am posting what I have in order to help people keep their games working.
What I have listed is not complete, but it is all I have.
And please note, this is not a catalog. I do not sell parts.
If you need parts try places like www.digikey.com,
or www.halted.com. You might also try
posting an inquiry on the newsgroup: rec.games.video.arcade.collecting.
San Jose, CA
8 December 2003