Amazingly, Chuck E. Cheese (the pizza chain established in 1977 by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell) still uses 3.5-inch floppy disks to update its animated characters – but that is all set to change this year.
Recently, Chuck E. Cheese employee Stewart Coonrod posted a TikTok video that outlines how the update process works (thanks, Ars Technica). When a new song and dance routine needs to be installed on one of the chain's once-famous animatronic systems, it is loaded from the floppy and a pair of DVDs.
Coonrod adds that this update – referred to as the 'Evergreen Show 2023' – is the final one; his restaurant is about to undergo a refit that will strip away the iconic animatronics that have been at the heart of Chuck E. Cheese since its inception in the '70s.
"Today, I'm going to be showing you how to install a new show on our old system," Coonrod says in the video. "This is going to be the last show we receive before the remodel. So this is my last chance to film and show you how we do it."
The remodel will replace the animated characters – described within the company as 'Cyberamics' and the inspiration for the Five Nights at Freddy's series of video games – with a dance floor (the Chuck E. Cheese characters are now inhabited mainly by live actors in suits).
Nolan Bushell's involvement with the chain ended in 1984 when its parent company Pizza Time Theatre filed for bankruptcy. Robert Brock, who had previously entered into a franchising agreement with Bushnell, purchased the company in 1985 and merged it with his own firm, ShowBiz Pizza Place Inc., to create ShowBiz Pizza Time Inc., which would eventually unify all of its locations under the Chuck E. Cheese branding in 1994. The company renamed itself CEC Entertainment and, in 2020, again filed for bankruptcy but emerged from this under the ownership of its lenders, led by Monarch Alternative Capital.