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Though many arcade machines used dedicated hardware, some manufacturers attempted to use a common platform between different games, offering arcade operators cheaper ways to change from one game to another without buying an entirely new cabinet.

Data East's DECO Cassette System, released in December 1980, is said to be the first arcade platform. Just under 50 games were released in the years following its launch. DECO Cassette games were released on tapes. Most later platforms would migrate to cartridges, boards designed to pop onto a base unit, or, later, optical media like CD-ROMs or DVDs.

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