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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Licence to thrill at Bond exhibition
The West Australian, September 14th

The immaculate Aston Martin DB5, 1964 vintage, is perhaps the most recognisable of all exhibits. ... Refreshments can be had in a museum cafe dotted with 007 memorabilia (including Bond jigsaws, board games and a GoldenEye pinball machine). I don't ...Read more

Game Room Pub brings 'barcade' to Sheboygan
Herald Times Reporter, September 13th

Dans Schaefer tries out a vintage pinball machine at his firm, The Game Room Pub in Sheboygan. (Photo: Gary C. Klein/Gannett ... Two large-screen TVs in the rear anchor the sit-down console game bays, while another over the bar provides entertainment...Read more

Jukebox hero? Hamlin man gets celebrity nod
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, September 12th

And now, thanks to a nod by celebrity client Jessica Chastain on Thursday's The Tonight Show, America is learning all about the 50-year-old Hamlin resident's passion and talent. While on the popular late night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon, award...Read more

Huddersfield's Rat & Ratchet scoops top award in Great British Pub contest
Huddersfield Examiner, September 12th

“Externally, the outlet is an archetypal city-centre pub, but inside is a welcoming, smartly decorated haven. A 'quiet' room at the back is an attractive space if you're in for a chat — otherwise, customers can take full advantage of the vintage...Read more

New 'barcade' combines beer and games
Sioux Falls Argus Leader, September 11th

The Bonus Round Bar has 14 vintage and modern arcade games with plans to add more. "We have a claw machine and are bringing in another pinball machine," Collins said. "All our games have a story." They have scoured the Internet and bought games ...Read more

Competitive Pinball Takes the Plunge at Tilt
Seven Days, September 10th

The slugger heard neither this remark nor the barrage of AC/DC songs that blared from the speakers of the band's eponymous pinball machine. His earbuds, blasting the heavy metal that helps him concentrate, were firmly embedded. Besides, he was ...Read more

Pinball ban flipped: Bizarre 80-year-old rule is overturned in Oakland with ...
Daily Mail, August 21st

A bizarre 80-year-old ban on playing pinball machines in Oakland, California, has finally been lifted and a month-long tournament is being run to celebrate. The game was outlawed across the U.S in the 1930s because it was considered gambling. Officials ...Read more

Huge Tournament Celebrates End of Oakland's Bizarre 80-Year Pinball Ban
Wired, August 19th

there,” Sharpe said of the complaint that led to the enforcement of the anti-pinball law. “If you want to shut someone down, find a way to make what they're doing illegal. So they found this old rule that didn't allow people to operate pinball...Read more