Bingo Pinballs

This Page Last Updated 6-01-2010


~ I consider this one of the best pinball articles ever written…………..Hmmm! ~



Pinball Wizardry


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Right now it's time to pay tribute to possibly the coolest gadget game of all time. Immortalised by The Who in rock's finest opera and canvas to some of the best pop art of the 20th century - we're talking about the Pinball machine.

After the fruit machine, pinball is the most successful arcade game ever. Each year in America alone more than 100 million dollars are fed into pinball machines. In the 70 years since they first appeared, more than 12,000,000 have been produced and making them is still big business: worldwide sales of pinball machines last year were worth over 50 million pounds. In a world now dominated by ultra-sophisticated video games, firing a small metal ball around a series of neon obstacles, may seem rather simplistic - but its that simplicity that makes these machines are so hugely attractive; Think about it; all you have to do is fire the ball into play, then try and keep it there for as long as possible with a pair of flippers - and that's it. But with bumpers firing, lights flashing, counters spinning, buzzers, whirrs, bells and sirens going off all over the place, it's like having your own personal fairground to play with. The machine does most of the work, but you look very, very cool.

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Pinball grew out of a game called Bagatelle, a game played on a sort of small billiards table, where the aim was to knock balls down holes, guarded by metal pins sticking up from the playing surface.

The first pinball machines, which appeared in the 1930s, worked on much the same principle. You simply fired a ball up into the playing area and it would then roll back down hitting pins and bouncing around until it fell in a hole - hence the name Pinball. The very early models didn't even have a firing mechanism like this; you launched the ball by pushing it with a small cue.

'The Ballyhoo' launched by Bally in 1931, was the first successful mass produced machine - mainly because it provided very cheap entertainment for depression hit Americans.

And you could make money off these machines if you got high enough scores. The Bally Bingo was a hugely popular machine from the 30s. And you basically play a sort of pinball bingo on it. You try and get the balls into the holes with the right numbers to fill up your bingo card up on the display. If you managed it, then the bar owner would give you a prize of a free drink. Other machines would actually pay out prize money if you got a good score, but this led to pinball machines being demonised by the anti-gambling lobby who saw them as a game of chance and campaigned to have them banned.

And banned they were in New York City on January 21st 1942. Barges loaded up with pinball machines sailed out into the east river, where the machines were unceremoniously pushed over the side. Mayor Fiorelli La Guardia - the one they named their airport after - even staged a publicity stunt where he personally smashed up a whole pile of machines.

The ban was only lifted in 1976, but it is still illegal to play any pinball machines in New York which reward you for high scores - even if it's just by giving you an extra game. Of course, in reality the NYPD is far too busy chasing muggers and flashers around Central Park to worry about pinball violations.

The fact that there was money at stake when playing pinball inevitably led to people trying to cheat and affect the roll of the ball by lifting or tilting the machine. In the early 30s the cheating had reached such levels that it almost did for the pinball industry - nobody wanted machines that could only lose money. In 1935, a chap called Harry Williams came up with the anti-tilt device designed to switch the game off if the table was moved or nudged violently and ever since the 'Tilt' has been a feature of every pinball table.




~ That Spot Em - Ohio Dime Machine – Has been renamed Bowl-a-Line ~

















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