Throughout much of the 20th century, the names Bally, Gottlieb, and Williams have been pinball deities to pinball wizards worldwide. These were the big three companies, whose pinball machines were the precursors of today’s video games.

Gottlieb was founded in Chicago in 1927. One of its first tabletop pinball machines from 1931 was called Baffle Ball, which sold for $17.50 and gave players a half-dozen-or-so chances (depending on how the game was set) to get a ball into a hole for just a penny. A Williams game from 1952 called Horsefeathers allowed two players to play side-by-side, as balls bouncing on bumpers advanced mechanical horses on the game’s backbox. As for Bally, its Caperville game from 1966 featured stylized spies in an underwater world of angular heroes and heroines.

In the 1970s, the electromechanical pinball machines of the 1950s and 1960s were replaced by solid-state machines, which could compute scores instantaneously. They also added a cacophony of sound effects to the machines repertoire of bells and whistles. Video games in video arcades in the 1980s almost wiped out pinball games entirely, but a series of lucrative licensing deals with movie producers in the 1990s made pinball popular again. In 1991, for example, Bally’s Midway division manufactured a machine based on the film "The Addams Family." It remains the best-selling pinball machine of all time, with more than 20,000 units sold.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

An enormous database focusing on pinball machines and other arcade games from the 1930s and on, from a collector wh… [read review or visit site]

Internet Pinball Database

Internet Pinball Database

For an in-depth look at thousands of different pinball machines, head over to the Internet Pinball Database, where … [read review or visit site]

Museum of Talking Boards

Museum of Talking Boards

Prepare to enter the strange world of Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board game, which captured imaginations en masse… [read review or visit site]

Elliot Avedon Games Museum

Elliot Avedon Games Museum

This in-depth University of Waterloo virtual exhibit showcases vintage games in a variety of categories, from class… [read review or visit site]

International Arcade Museum

International Arcade Museum

This site boasts more than 13,000 pages of educational content on arcade and coin-op collecting, including innumera… [read review or visit site]

Electronic Plastic

Electronic Plastic

From Tomy to Coleco to Mattel and Nintendo, check out this collection of over 660 handheld and tabletop videogames … [read review or visit site]

Pong Story

Pong Story

David Winter's tribute to early video games, and to Ralph H. Baer, 'inventor of the video game.' Offers a detailed … [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

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Recent News: Pinball Machines

Source: Google News

An antique extravaganza in Rural Retreat
Southwest Virginia Today, October 10th

He said he plans to keep items that are special to him, including a pinball machine like the one he used to play in his youth and antique drug store collectibles. He has enough pieces to reconstruct a drug store as it appeared in the late 1880 to 1890s...Read more

Pilgrim nuclear plant a scary prospect for South Shore
The Boston Globe, October 9th

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is so concerned about safety issues at the 43-year-old plant that last month it downgraded its safety rating. There is now no other plant in the country with a lower rating. Essentially Pilgrim is the atomic...Read more

What's on Main?: Building home to Second Chance store has room to grow
McDowell News, October 7th

Their store also has some fascinating items such as a framed jersey autographed by soccer great David Beckham, old pinball machines, an old Coca-Cola vending machine and antique Victrolas and Gramophones from the early 1900s that play those old ...Read more

Exhibit: Tenderloin Museum presents neighborhood in perspective
Reading Eagle, October 3rd

With archival photos, footage, recordings and yellowed newspaper clippings - augmented by artifacts ranging from a vintage pinball machine to peep-show viewfinders from famous fan dancer Sally Rand to ticket stubs from the Blackhawk Jazz Club - it ...Read more

The top 5 bars for pinball in Toronto
blogTO (blog), October 3rd

3030 has a lot going for it: a menu filled with quality tapas, live music, craft beers on tap, and a couple vintage pinball machines to top it all off. The space can hold up to 200 diners and drinkers, so you may have to fight off a few enthusiastic...Read more

Bob and Cortney Novogratz Blog: 8 Tips for Creating Fun Family Spaces in Your Home
People Magazine, October 2nd

Bob and Cortney Novogratz are a design duo—and parents to seven children—who recently bought a 1920s-era castle in the Hollywood Hills. Check back regularly on as they blog about the rewards, risks, messes, and successes of the project, ...Read more

Playtime: Museum exhibit features vintage toys, September 29th

A new exhibit has transformed the Canton Historical Museum, a former one-room schoolhouse at 1022 S. Canton Center, into a vintage toy shop of sorts. "Toys! Batteries Not Included" runs through Nov. 21. (Museum hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m. ...Read more

Louisville bar wants vintage item stolen at Funtown Mountain to be returned
Louisville Business First (blog), September 11th

Zanzabar, a bar and restaurant at 2100 S. Preston St., says it had loaned the park a 1978 Stern "Stars" pinball machine. The bar said on Facebook that the machine was stolen when Funtown Mountain "got looted" and it's now asking for the item to be...Read more