In August 2007, Nolan Bushnell was interviewed by Steve Fulton of Gamasutra and gave the following quote:
“When we did Computer Space there were about 7 prototype units that were really not to standard that could be sold to 3rd parties. We saw them as an opportunity and we put them on location and collected the quarters every week. When we did that some of the places wanted pinball so we started buying equipment and collecting the quarters. That was one of the early ways we financed the business.” - Nolan Bushnell
This would appear to explain infrequent variations on the Computer Space model that have risen to the surface over the years. First of all it clarifies the origin of Serial Number 9003 which was listed in auction as being the white Computer Space unit seen in the 1973 movie Soylent Green
Above is a Photoshopped rendition of what these brown units may look like, not a photo of an actual machine. Below is an ACTUAL brown machine. The owner promises to send clearer pictures soon. He details the machine as follows:
"The brown metal flake had a very slight gray-ish tint to it, and from what I remember, an free hand cut rear door and an exposed lock under the control panel. It's been my understanding that the lock below the control panel and free hand cut rear door were features shared with very early production units. By free hand cut door, I'm meaning it wasn't perfectly symmetrical, and showed a bit of irregularity."
Click here for a larger version of the picture.
But one residual left over from the prototype machines seems to be the existence of the yellow Computer Space. The number of yellow units compared to its red and blue flake brothers is considerably low, at one time rumored to be limited to only six in existence. This rumor has been quashed as eight yellow machines have been recorded as still alive today.
Without a doubt, the yellow unit is the popular model for photography. A yellow machine appears on the famous poster, one was used in the music video for Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha, and 40 minutes into the movie Jaws, one can be seen in the background.