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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Philippine Star, July 4th

National Book Store branches, and the press got to sample the sleek pen lines at a launch held at EDSA Beverage Design Group, a decidedly hip coffee bar that caters to designers and retro café lovers (there's even a vintage pinball machine in the...Read more

“The first instinct is usually right when it comes to songwriting” — Dance ...
Substream Magazine, July 3rd

The album cover is a nod to the singularity and the struggle between organic and machine influence on the world. The lyrics ... I bought a vintage Roland Jupiter 6 synth and have been dying to use it. The rap ... It couldn't just be about a pinball...Read more

Roanoke Pinball Museum Proves “Old is New and Vintage is Cool.”
The Roanoke Star, June 30th

Rachel Hopkins, project manager of the new Roanoke Pinball Museum in Center in the Square, looks closer at one of the space's forty-plus pinball machines. “They tripped the tilt,” she says as she moves to correct the machine. Such is the way of some of...Read more

Play games at these 10 Atlanta bars
Access Atlanta, June 30th

Let's face it, playing games never gets old. Whether you're an Xbox fiend, checkers master or a Pac-Man fan, Atlanta's bars and restaurants have the games, drinks and meals you're looking for. Ormsby's - You've spent a hard day shopping at the Westside ...Read more

Fundraiser for Grand Forks assault victim draws crowd
Grand Forks Herald, June 26th

Family members and friends pitched in items for the auction, with his aunt Sandy Saure donating a vintage pinball machine, Owen Dahl donating a metal flower sculpture and family friend Evelyn Hensrud donating homemade lefse. Several businesses and ...Read more

Roanoke Pinball Museum: Calling All Wizards
WVTF, June 12th

There's an old saying: Buy a girl a dress, and she looks pretty for one night; buy her boyfriend a pinball machine and she looks pretty for life. The saying might be old, but the games are older. Pinball machines as we know them today were invented in...Read more

Collecting Treasures: Pinball machines not kids' play, 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

Pinball purists keep the ball in play at Tacoma show, June 6th

For many, the show's biggest attraction is the array of games — more than 400, all set on free play and ranging from vintage pinball machines from the 1950s to prototypes of games still in development. This year's prototypes include “The Hobbit” from...Read more