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THE HISTORY OF PINBALL
As far back as the 1800’s, games existed with balls and tables. One of the more notable games was called Bagatelle, one of the forerunners of both billiards and pinball. Bagatelle was played with nine balls, and the objective was to get the balls into holes, bypassing obstacles (pins). Bagatelle was created as a way to bring outdoor games such as croquet and shuffleboard to the indoors.
Bagatelle evolved in different directions. From the concept of croquet, the wickets became pockets, later evolving into pocket billiards. Another variation was to put the holes in strategic locations in the middle of the table, later evolving into pinball.
In 1871 a British inventor, Montegue Redgrave, added the coiled spring and plunger, made the game smaller, replaced the Bagatelle balls with marbles, and tilted the table.
Pinball didn’t enter it’s heydey until the 1930’s when variations of the basic theme began to appear. Different layouts, obstacles, hole positions, and so forth began to appear and in 1936, the term PINBALL came into being. Many pinball machines were tabletop games, and people often physically lifted the game off the table and shook it to manipulate the game. In counter to this, Harry Williams invented the tilt mechanism.
The Bingo Novelty Company in conjunction with D. Gottlieb & Company put out Bingo pinball. David Gottlieb put out Baffle Ball and Raymond Maloney of Bally Corporation came out with Bally Hoo.
In 1934 pinball was electrified. Powered with electricity, sounds, music and lights were added to the game, again by Harry Williams. Bumpers were added by Bally Hoo in 1937.
The 1940’s brought incredible turmoil to the game. Pinball machine production was shut down during World War II and replaced with war machine production. After the war, the New York City government began the onslaught of new laws designed to abolish pinball. The legal battle raged on thru the 40’s and 50’s but pinball eventually prevailed.
The evolution continued. Flippers were added in 1947, this time by Harry Mabs. The 1950’s brought two player games.
The evolution continued in the 1960’s when Steve Kordek introduced the drop target, multiballs, and moved the flippers to the bottom of the table. The 60’s also brought digital scoring and the song Pinball Wizard by Pete Townshend and The Who.