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

King of pinball museums is in massive facility in Banning
The Desert Sun, February 4th

15, the Museum of Pinball will host a party for Modernism Week that will give holders of $125 tickets a rare opportunity to tour the museum, play the vintage and modern pinball machines, enjoy “Mad Men”-era cocktails in a cocktail lounge labeled with a...Read more

TV's 'Salvage Dawgs' to feature historic Marion landmark
Southwest Virginia Today, February 2nd

from the downtown Marion landmark in addition to the bowling alley lanes were an old Coca-Cola machine, a chest-type Pepsi machine, a dental chair, furniture, a two-seat bicycle, a television/stereo combination unit, bowling pins, a pinball machine...Read more

Exploring Brevard's man caves
Florida Today, January 30th

For Merritt Island resident Tom Palermo, his man cave is his professional-level gym, where among the elliptical trainers and exercise bikes reside his extensive collection of vintage G.I. Joes. Of course, if the perfect man ... In the rest of his two...Read more

Pinball is making a full-tilt comeback at these DC bars
Washington Post, January 28th

The Black Cat, which has offered pinball in its Red Room Lounge for years, opened the Lucky Cat game room in November 2014 and now has seven machines under one roof, from vintage 1990s games to the state-of-the-art, limited-edition Wizard of Oz...Read more

Dadline: Center goes retro with old-school video games
Roanoke Times (blog), January 24th

When your parents bowl in the “Guys & Dolls” league on Friday nights, like my folks did in the mid-1970s, you have lots of free time in a bowling alley. My brother and I tagged along on league nights and spent hours bowling a few games, shooting...Read more

Skid Row's Sebastian Bach sells Lincroft home, says Jersey 'haunted' for him now, January 21st

Sebastian Bach, the Skid Row frontman who made New Jersey his home for 21 years, has finally sold the Lincroft home that was condemned after massive flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011, and tells NJ Advance Media what New Jersey has meant to him ...Read more

Take a Turn at the Flippers This Weekend at the World's Largest Pinball Museum
Smithsonian, January 15th

The Museum of Pinball in Banning, California, just about a 20-mile drive from Palm Springs, holds one of the largest collections of quarter-sucking games, housing about 800 vintage and modern pinball machines and arcade games in a massive warehouse ...Read more

Museum opens doors to largest collection of pinball, arcade games for one ...
LA Daily News, January 13th

For kids of a certain age — say, 35 and up — it's the stuff dreams are made of: more than 900 vintage pinball and arcade games, with almost no duplicates among them. Although many of these machines once sucked quarters out of pockets at a dizzying...Read more