Following Defender and Stargate, Robotron 2084 was the third game created by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, and the second game created after founding their own development company, Vid Kidz. Just like those previous games, Robotron 2084 was a massive hit, earning critical praise and mountains of quarters, seemingly despite its brutal, unforgiving game play. Decades later, Robotron 2084 remains a popular title with arcade game collectors and enthusiasts.
Part of the game's inspiration was literally an accident. After a car wreck, Jarvis was left with a broken hand, and found himself unable to play most video games. He could still use joysticks, though, and so he decided to work on a game that required only joysticks, without any buttons. Other inspiration came from an obscure computer game called Chase, and the popular arcade game Berzerk. Jarvis enjoyed Berzerk, but didn't like how the player can fire and walk only in the same direction. Jarvis decided a two-joystick control scheme would be perfect for allowing players to walk in any direction and fire in any other direction, independently.
With those basic elements, Vid Kidz had what they needed to make their new game. This was fortunate, because Williams was begging for a quick production, after learning Berzerk publisher Stern was hard at work on a sequel. Jarvis and DeMar managed to complete most of their new game's programming in only four days. Before it could be released, however, they wanted a story to go along with all the robot killing. Borrowing from George Orwell's 1984 and from their own Defender, Jarvis and DeMar decided the robots had come to view humans as the source of all problems, and in need of extinction. This lead to a new goal for the player: rescue the last surviving human family (who apparently had been cloned several times over). Robotron 2084 now had everything it needed for its eventual success.
After its arcade release, Robotron 2084 was ported to several home computers and game systems. Several years later, Jarvis worked on another game with the same style of play as Robotron 2084, called Smash TV. The new game was a success, but its predescesor was by far the bigger hit.