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 almost instantaneously. They also added a cacophony of sound effects to the machines repertoire of bells and whistles. Video games 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.


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Recent News: Pinball Machines

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Elitch Lanes leaving North Denver after 63 years
North Denver Tribune, April 16th

Eichinger says running his own show means fun and creative decorating, including vintage bar games. “The Big Lebowski” shares wall ... An air hockey game from the 1970s sits next to a pinball machine and a Ms. Pac-Man. “We're unique, we have our own ...Read more

ZapCon 2015: A Field Guide to This Weekend's Event in Mesa
Phoenix New Times (blog), April 15th

ZapCon, the two-day classic arcade and pinball convention, takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, and offers the chance take a trip to yesteryear and get your hands on more than 200 different quarter-munchers of a vintage nature, most of...Read more

ZapCon taps into vintage arcade-game revival, 4/18-19
azcentral.com, April 14th

And this weekend, the third annual ZapCon Arcade and Pinball Convention will cater to geeks of a certain age in Mesa with more than 200 cabinet and pinball games, plus an Atari Lounge and Nintendo Lounge for folks who miss their old-school home systems...Read more

superelectric coming to Gordon Square with more opportunities for pinball ...
freshwatercleveland, April 14th

Food, potables, seating and between 20 and 25 machines will all be in the mix, as will a couple of vintage jukeboxes that play 45s. The new space needs electrical and plumbing work, which they hope to start as early as this week with the help of a...Read more

Milwaukee Record's favorite moments from the 2015 Midwest Gaming Classic
Milwaukee Record, April 13th

A giant tent that stretches across one of the hotel's parking lots serves as ground zero for hundreds of vendors selling everything from old Atari, NES, Genesis, and SNES games to vintage toys and computer gear. ... After eating another pre-made Jersey...Read more

Pinball museum offers nostalgic return to fading pastime
The Star Online, April 12th

In the basement of a nondescript apartment house, Balazs Palfi displays a unique collection of over 140 working machines that has turned into a pilgrimage site for pinball enthusiasts. “Video games cannot replace them,” insisted the 42-year-old...Read more

Oakland U. will be a pinball paradise this weekend
Detroit Free Press, April 9th

As a self-proclaimed arcade rat in the 1980s, John Kosmal often rode his bike up to 20 miles one way just to play a particular pinball machine. Time hasn't altered the 43-year-old Rochester Hills man's passion for flippers and targets. This week, he's...Read more

Pinball wizards coming to festival in Frisco
Dallas Morning News, March 25th

The 2015 Texas Pinball Festival is returning to Frisco. The event will feature a variety of pinball tournaments for kids and adults; vendors selling parts, supplies, equipment and memorabilia; and more than 400 vintage and new pinball machines and...Read more