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The History of Pinball. Early Games. Baffle Ball - D Gottlieb & Co. (Nov 1931 - $17.50) Designed by David Gottlieb Ballyhoo – Bally Mfg Corp (Jan, 1932 – 75,000 units) Designed by Ray Moloney. Pinball started in Chicago, and stayed in Chicago. Pinball “eras”. Tabletop games – 1931-1933

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early games
Early Games
  • Baffle Ball - D Gottlieb & Co. (Nov 1931 - $17.50) Designed by David Gottlieb
  • Ballyhoo – Bally Mfg Corp (Jan, 1932 – 75,000 units) Designed by Ray Moloney.
  • Pinball started in Chicago, and stayed in Chicago
pinball eras
Pinball “eras”
  • Tabletop games – 1931-1933
  • Electric pre-flipper games – 1933-1947
  • Flipper “woodrail” games – 1947-1960
  • Steel-rail “electromechanical” games – 1960-1979
  • Early electronic games – 1979-1991
  • Modern dot-matrix games – 1991-present
pinball eras pre flipper to 1947
Pinball “eras” – pre-flipper (to 1947)
  • Bumper – 1936 – first game to have bumpers on the playfield.
  • Scoring was “bulb scoring” – player adds up the illuminated score in the backbox
pinball eras woodrail 1947 1960
Pinball “eras” – woodrail (1947-1960)
  • Games similar to pre-flipper.
  • Most of these games had “bulb scoring”
pinball eras em 1960 1977
Pinball “eras” – EM (1960-1977)
  • Steel replaced wood to prevent tampering.
  • Score reels were new around this time.
  • Automatic ball lift added mid-60’s
  • Flippers changed from 2” to 3” in the early 70’s (more power, faster game)
pinball eras early electronic
Pinball “eras” – early electronic
  • Backglass, cabinet art still largely the same as in the past.
  • Playfield layout simple, with addition of some ramps.
  • A few games introduced multiple-level playfields.
  • At first, electronics replaces relay banks, score motor, and score reels - most else the same.
  • Some radical new game designs in the mid-late 80’s from Williams
pinball eras modern 1991
Pinball “eras” – modern (1991-)
  • New: Cabinet art, backglass, dot-matrix, complexity
important innovations
Important Innovations
  • Electricity – Autocount, Nov, ’33, ABT Mfg co
  • Flipper – Humpty Dumpty, Oct ’47, Harry Mabs
  • Pop Bumper – Saratoga, Oct ’48, Harry Williams
  • Ramps – Skyway, Feb ’54, Harry Williams
  • Drop Target – Vagabond, Oct ’62, Steve Kordek
  • Electronics – Spirit of 76, ’75 Micro Games, Inc.
  • Dot Matrix – Checkpoint, Feb ’91, Joe Kaminkow
first with electricity
First with Electricity
  • Autocount, Nov, ’33, ABT Mfg co. Contact, Nov ’33, Pacific Amusement Mfg co.
  • first known electric scorekeeper (Autocount)
  • first known score reel
  • first known tilt mechanism
  • First games used batteries, not AC
first flipper
First Flipper
  • Humpty Dumpty, Oct ’47
  • Designed by Harry Mabs
first pop bumper
First Pop Bumper
  • Saratoga,Oct ’48
  • Designed by Harry Williams
first ramps
First Ramps
  • Skyway,Feb ’54
  • Designed by Harry Williams
  • Some pre-flipper games of the 30’s had ramps
first drop target
First Drop Target
  • Vagabond – Williams, 1962
  • Designed by Steve Kordek
  • First bank drop target was Gottlieb Crescendo in 1970
first electronic game
First Electronic Game
  • Spirit of 76, released 1975
  • Micro Games, Inc.
  • First non-relay based pinball– 2 years before Gottlieb released Cleopatra
first dot matrix
First Dot Matrix
  • Checkpoint, Feb ‘91
  • Data East Pinball, Inc.
  • Designed by Joe Kaminkow
pinball designers
Pinball Designers
  • Harry Williams – invented the modern “tilt” mechanism, started Williams Manufacturing
  • Harry Mabs – inventor of the flipper(Gottlieb)
  • Wayne Neyens, Ed Krynsky – Gottlieb designers (1950’s-1980)
  • Norm Clark, Ted Zale - Bally
  • Steve Kordek – Williams – first to put the flippers in their current position. Still at WMS in 1999.
  • Steve Ritchie, Pat Lawlor – modern games
pinball designers1
Pinball Designers

Alvin Gottlieb

Ed Krynsky

Wayne Neyens

(Pinball Expo 2002)

pinball art
Pinball Art
  • Roy Parker – “Classic” Gottlieb art (40’s through 60’s)
pinball art1
Pinball Art
  • George Molentin – Williams art (40’s through 60’s)
pinball art2
Pinball Art
  • Christian Marche – Williams, Bally (60’s and 70’s)
pinball art3
Pinball Art
  • Dave Christensen – Bally (70’s and 80’s)
pinball art4
Pinball Art
  • Art Stenholm – Gottlieb (60’s and 70’s)
pinball art5
Pinball Art
  • Gordon Morison – Gottlieb (70’s and 80’s)
pinball art6
Pinball Art
  • John Youssi – Williams, Stern (’88-current)
the last week at williams
The Last Week at Williams
  • Williams last series of games was called “Pinball 2000”
  • Ironically, Williams shut down production of pinball in October, 1999 (announced Oct 25)
  • This is the production line on Thursday, Oct 21, 1999 (producing Star Wars)
further reading
Further Reading
  • The Pinball Compendium, 1930’s-1960’s Michael Shalhoub (Schiffer)
  • The Pinball Compendium, 1970-1981, Michael Shalhoub (Schiffer)
    • These first 2 books are highly recommended. They have many beautiful color photos as well as year-by-year descriptions of games produced. Don’t place too much faith in the game values, however. I believe Michael will do another volume if you like the more modern games. The 2nd volume came out in 2004, 1st in 2002.
  • Pinball Memories, Forty Years of Fun 1958-1998 Marco Rossignoli (Schiffer)
    • This book is a smaller volume and more of an overview – much less detailed. IF you want one book to cover the whole timeframe, this is probably a good choice, although I like the first two much better.
  • Encyclopedia of Pinball, Volume 1 by Richard M Bueschel
    • This book covers coin-op machines in excruciating detail. Volume 1 covers the time period 1930-1933 only! Unfortunately, Dick passed away before he completed the complete set. For the hardcore collector.
  • You might find these books on amazon.com eventually, but I know you can get the first two from Bay Area Amusements: http://www.bayareaamusements.com or from the Pingame Journal: http://www.pingamejournal.com/cool/
mc collection saratoga
Simpsons (Stern 2004)

Breakshot (Capcom 1996)

Attack From Mars (Bally 1995)

Cue Ball Wizard (GTB 1992)

Bride of Pinbot (WMS 1991)

F-14 Tomcat (WMS 1987)

Touchdown (GTB 1984)

Spirit (GTB 1982)

Haunted House (GTB 1982)

8 Ball deluxe (Bally 1982)

Solar Ride (GTB 1979)

Totem (GTB 1979)

Count-Down (GTB 1979)

Joker Poker (GTB 1978)

Space Odyssey (WMS 1976)

Paul Bunyan (GTB 1968)

Sing Along (GTB 1967)

Central Park (GTB 1966)

Kings&Queens (GTB 1965)

Beat the Clock (WMS 1963)

Seven Seas (GTB 1959)

NEW! Hit N Run (GTB 1952)

MC Collection (Saratoga)