Note: The follow text was taken from the Wikipedia article on Stern, version as of 2006-10-04
Stern is the name of two different but related arcade gaming companies: Stern Electronics, Inc. and Stern Pinball, Inc.
Stern Electronics, Inc.Edit
The first of these companies is Stern Electronics, Inc., founded by amusement industry-legend Sam Stern. Sam Stern, along with Harry E. Williams, founded Williams Manufacturing Company in 1946. Stern Electronics was formed when the Stern family bought the financially-troubled Chicago Coin in 1977.
After a weak start, Stern Electronics' sales started picking up by the end of 1977. Although not as successful as rivals Williams and Bally (Gottlieb had been purchased in 1977 by Columbia Pictures but was still a formidable competitor as well), Stern managed to produce its share of moderately successful pinballs as well. Also, in 1979, Stern acquired jukebox maker Seeburg Corporation, and the company became known as Stern / Seeburg. When the arcade video game craze hit in 1980, Stern produced the hit game Berzerk. No other video game it made was ever as popular as Berzerk, however, and in 1983 Stern became one of many victims of the amusement industry economic shakeout that occurred. In 1985, Stern Electronics left the amusement industry and sold its pinball division to Data East.
Stern Pinball, Inc.Edit
By 1999, the pinball industry was virtually dead and Williams, once the dominant leader in a healthy industry, decided to stop manufacturing pinball tables and focus on gambling devices as WMS Gaming. During the same year, Sega decided to leave the pinball industry as well and sold its pinball division (previously purchased from Data East in 1996) to Gary Stern, the son of Sam Stern. Gary Stern founded Stern Pinball, Inc. that same year and since then, the company has been the largest manufacturer of pinball tables in the world.
Several Williams alumni, like legendary pinball designers Steve Ritchie and Pat Lawlor, as well as George Gomez (who also works at Midway Games) and more recently, Dennis Nordman, are currently designing games for Stern Pinball.
October the 30th 2008 known as black Thursday, due in part to the economic downturn of America; a sudden restructuring of Stern Pinball lead to all of the core design staff being laid off. These include Keith Johnson, John Borg, Dwight Sullivan, Dennis Nordman, Joe Blackwell and with them goes years of pinball talent, possibly the final nail in the coffin of pinball.