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.


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Recent News: Pinball Machines

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Discoveries: S.F.'s Tenderloin Museum presents neighborhood in perspective
Sacramento Bee, August 29th

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

'Simpsons' co-creator's memorabilia headed to auction
CNBC, August 29th

Auction house Sotheby's is planning to sell memorabilia and fine art from the collection of the late Sam Simon, one of the most influential creative forces in modern television. Simon, who died from colon cancer in March, was best known as co-creator...Read more

Museum & Gallery Listings for Aug. 28-Sept. 3
New York Times, August 27th

A connecting gallery is equipped with pinball machines and video games, which are free to play. 200 Eastern ..... from the United States. Carlee Fernandez's delightfully weird self-portraits from 2006 show her communing with her (old, white, male...Read more

Bar review: Neo Cocktail Club's elegantly crafted concoctions
South China Morning Post (subscription), August 27th

The 1960s- and '70s-flavoured decor includes a quirky selection of retro lighting fixtures and chairs, not to mention a vintage foosball table and a Playboy bunny pinball machine. The name pays tribute to Hong Kong's neon heritage as reflected in the...Read more

Pinball enthusiasts get ball rolling at first official ACT championship in ...
ABC Online, August 22nd

From teenagers to their grandparents, hundreds of pinball enthusiasts tried their hands at the vintage game this weekend, vying to be the first official ACT Pinball Champion. The event is the brainchild of international competitor Peter Menzel, who was...Read more

'Simpsons' Memorabilia, Fine Art Belonging to Sam Simon to Be Auctioned
NBCNews.com, August 20th

A "Simpsons" pinball machine expected to sell for up to $2,000, Simon's leather jacket featuring that show's most popular characters, a "Drew Carey Show" lunchbox with a pre-sale estimate of up to $500, and various fine art objects. The total value of...Read more

Mike Bettes hosts new 'Weather Underground' show August 24
Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog), August 19th

On the other end, some experts will go old school and use chalk boards. Many of the dedicated volunteers who help make Weather Underground work will show up as well, Menard said. “These are the people who love to submit photos and video, who build ...Read more

Collecting Treasures: Pinball machines not kids' play
azcentral.com, June 12th

Yet, vintage games like arcade pinball machines are rising in popularity with the gamers of today as well as the gamers of old. In fact, a Bally's 1976 Captain Fantastic pinball machine can put a large dent in your wallet. Quite a shock, when you...Read more