A spinner is a common arcade game controller. They were also used on several early console systems (like the Atari 2600), but for some reason Atari called them "Paddles".

A spinner controller is a knob that you rotate left or right to cause movement on the game's playfield. The first spinner controllers were used in games like Pong, Breakout, and Super Breakout (and their many clones). Spinner games dropped a bit in popularity in the early 1980s, but enjoyed a brief surge when Arkanoid was released (Arkanoid was probably the best spinner game ever made).

There are two basic variety of spinners, optical and analog. I am going to talk about optical spinners first, as they are the most common. I will also touch on a few unique types of spinners that are very uncommon.

Optical Spinners

Optical spinners are by far the most common type. They work on the same principle as the mouse on your computer. Turning the spinner turns a small encoder wheel which translates into movement inside the game. These are digital in nature, but they closely mimic analog operation. Games such as Arkanoid, Tempest, and Homo use optical spinners.

Analog spinners

Analog spinners were mostly used in 1970s era ball and paddle games, such as Pong, Winner, and Breakout. These spinners work by turning a POT underneath the control panel. These provide true analog movement, but do not rotate nearly as freely as optical spinners (nor do the provide for full 360 degree rotation). These spinners are not as reliable, but are very cheap to repair when they do fail.

Unique spinners

A few games use other kinds of spinners. Discs of Tron uses an optical spinner that can be pressed down or pulled up for an additional degree of control. A few other titles use microswitch based spinners that only have a few distinct positions. Finally, some games (such as Ikari Warriors), integrate spinners into their joysticks. These integrated spinners usually have a small range of disctinct positions (Ikari Warriors has a 12 position one), and are unique to the game that uses them.

A spinner is a time-tested and very effective type of freshwater fishing lure. It typically consists of a swiveling side-mounted spoon at the front of the lure, a weighted midsection, and a treble hook dangling from the back of the weight. Very often the hook itself will be dressed with some kind of hair or feathers to disguise it. Spinners come in many different sizes, colors, and dressings.

Spinners are not usually designed to look like anything per se, but when fished normally they probably imitate a minnow. When pulled through the water at almost any speed, the spoon attached to the front of the weight will spin quickly around the lure like a helicopter blade, hence the name. This creates a disturbance in the water that attract the fishes' attention. For finicky fish, an over-regular vibration might seem suspicious, especially if it resembles a boat propellor. For this reason, spinners are best fished by reeling in slowly, then periodically jerking them forward with the rod tip. This can help simulate the action of a wounded baitfish.

In addition to straight cast-and-retrieve, spinners are also excellent for slow trolling, bottom-fishing, and even jigging. When trolling, vary the action on the spinner by dipping your rod tip to slow the lure, then pulling up on it to jerk it forward. Spinners can be fished effectively on the bottom by letting them settle, then reeling in for a bit; lather, rinse, repeat. Spinners are usually more snag-resistant than other lures, because the spinning blade will cause the lure to bounce off potential snags. However, it can often get tangled in thin weeds.

Many kinds of spinners are available wherever freshwater fishing equipment is sold. The most famous and widely trusted brand is Mepps. The Mepps Aglia, in particular, is touted as "The World's #1 Fishing Lure", and is an essential part of any freshwater angler's tackle box. Be wary of cheap, generic brand spinners, as they can often have very poor action due to badly-engineered blades.

The spinner spun wool black like night. He bought it at the Asian market, from a seller with an authentically oriental name and sold only two things: silk and black wool. The seller swore that the shepherd that supplied the wool grazed his sheep by nigh and rested them by day. The spinner believed the seller's outrageous claims. He believed them because the seller's [silk worms was light as air and bright as a pearl.

The spinner knew that true things are always pure. Although his black wool was pure, he knew that purity does not always guarantee truth. But the spinner trusted the seller, because his wool was black like night.

And thus the spinner found that he spun truth.

Spin"ner (?), n.


One who, or that which, spins one skilled in spinning; a spinning machine.


A spider.

"Long-legged spinners."


3. Zool.

A goatsucker; -- so called from the peculiar noise it makes when darting through the air.

4. Zool.

A spinneret.

Ring spinner, a machine for spinning, in which the twist, given to the yarn by a revolving bobbin, is regulated by the drag of a small metal loop which slides around a ring encircling the bobbin, instead of by a throstle.

© Webster 1913.

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